Reviews of the 2016 touring production of Hamlet
"A high energy and gripping 2 hours"
The Festival Players Theatre Company is a professional theatre company delivering the best in open-air Shakespeare, committed to presenting the very best in touring theatre.
This year's touring production is THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR.
For touring information CLICK HERE
Check out this ★★★★★ review by remotegat.com
"Tonight’s all-male performance by the Festival Players of ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’ at Somerset’s gorgeous Cothay Manor, happened near the start of an impressive summer tour of the UK and Europe. This means there are many, many chances to catch this splendid production between now and the end of August, and I highly recommend you check if they are coming your way. Director Michael Dyer has assembled an almost entirely new cast of young actors, who rollick and romp their way through this clever and clear adaptation with high energy and abundant talent.
I shamelessly eavesdropped on fellow audience members as they left. ‘Blissfully vulgar,’ said one friend. Someone else said, ‘Better than Stratford’. Another spoke of being close to tears at the end; when I asked if they were tears of laughter she said that she was sad the play was coming to its close because she was enjoying it so much and wanted it to keep going. Another commented that she heard every word – yet again Voice Consultant Trish Knight-Webb worked her magic, as has been the case with every one of the nine Festival Players production I have seen.
I’ve never seen ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor’ so had no idea what to expect. When I read the programme notes I thought I would be confused by the convolutions of the plot, but there was no confusion – only pleasure at the wit and warmth of the performance. Samuel Griffiths and William Ross-Fawcett imbue the merry wives with infectious fun as they plot to lead Sir John Falstaff on a merry dance in retaliation for his attempts to woo them in order to get his hands on their husbands’ money. The audience loved their ability to run rings round Falstaff and their hapless husbands.
Two years ago I was impressed with Mark Sprigg’s Falstaff in ‘Henry IV’ so knew we were in for a treat when the actor reprised the role. Mark plays the old rogue, lecherous and cash-strapped, with affection and compassion. His programme notes offer an interesting insight into Falstaff’s big and open heart.
The merry wives’ husbands are an effective exercise in contrast. Stephen Horncastle’s likeable George Page is affable and confident, exuding bonhomie. Paul Valentine’s Frank Ford, however, is consumed by jealousy, almost apoplectic at the thought of being cuckolded. Comedy gold.
Apart from Falstaff, all the actors played several roles, each character beautifully delineated. Connor Reed plays Anne Page with sweetness and quiet charm, as well as being Falstaff’s page, Robin and the eccentric Welsh parson, Hugh Evans. I enjoyed Anne’s ardent suitor, Fenton (William Ross-Fawcett, who also played Pistol), Stephen Horncastle’s outrageous Mistress Quickly, Samuel Griffith’s unctuous Judge Shallow, and Paul Valentine’s utterly gormless Abraham Slender.
Johnny Coppin’s music, at times robust and at others tender, enhances the action, demonstrating the versatility of the actors, and Frances Holt’s costumes enable the frequent quick changes without compromising authenticity.
If you’re looking for an antidote to the political shenanigans that seem intent on rocking our foundations and ensuring that almost half of the country experiences profound disappointment, then I suggest a hefty dose of medicinal compound, served with wit and relish by ‘The Merry Wives of Windsor.’"