DENVER POST — 'Merry Wives' is 'inspired ... sexy ... hilarious'

July 25, 2014

By Claire Martin, The Denver Post 

Poor, hapless buffoon John Falstaff, played to a frustrated fare-the-well by Michael Winters in the Colorado Shakespeare Festival production of Shakespeare's "The Merry Wives of Windsor."

The Falstaff here is a different man than the Falstaff in "Henry IV," though. In that play, he's a gourmand and bon vivant. Here, he's a fulsome, self-interested boor whose main ambition is to humiliate a couple of husbands by bedding their wives.

Director Seth Panitch sets "Merry Wives" in mid-century America, in a rundown Catskills resort. Setting (the play) in the nifty '50s is inspired.

While director Panitch leaves Shakespeare largely intact, the actors freely riff a bit. Falstaff's scruffy accomplices Nym and Pistol, normally a pair of actors, are interpreted by Sammie Joe Kinnett as a talentless ventriloquist whose dummy gets most of the good lines. ...  This Falstaff was made for white shoes and velour smoking jackets, and the women's clothing, either bouffant skirts and wasp waists or snug suits that might have come from Joan Harris's "Mad Men" closet, have a visual sexiness absent in Elizabethan drag.

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Photo: From left, Mare Trevathan as Mistress Page, Michael Winters as Falstaff and Vanessa Morosco as Mistress Ford. Casey A. Cass/University of Colorado