Posts Tagged ‘the merry wives of windsor’

Merry Wives
by William Shakespeare
Directed by Suki Peters
St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s TourCo
August 8, 2023

Michelle Hand, Rae Davis, Carl Overly Jr., Mitchell Henry-Eagles, Christina Yancy
Photo by Phillip Hamer Photography
St. Louis Shakespeare Festival

Imagine if The Merry Wives of Windsor was a 1990’s sitcom. That’s the premise of Merry Wives, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s TourCo show that’s running (for free) in various parks and other locations in the St. Louis area throughout the month of August. With a small, energetic and versatile cast, and some fun production elements, this is an entertaining Shakespearean update, even if it is a bit on the long side.

As is true for a lot of Shakespeare’s comedies, Merry Wives involves a lot of trickery and mixed-up romances. It also involves a popular character from some of the Bard’s history plays that he brought back, Sir John Falstaff, played here by Carl Overly, Jr. The swaggering, party-loving Falstaff has made the mistake here of trying to woo two women at once–Mrs. Page (Michelle Hand) and Mrs. Ford (Christina Yancy)–who are too clever for his own good. Upon discovering that Falstaff has sent the same letter to both of them, the two women set out to play a trick on the knight that involves a lot of hilarious hijinks. Meanwhile, the jealous Mr. Ford (Joel Moses) sets out to expose his wife’s supposed treachery by disguising himself and asking Falstaff for “help”, and the Pages’ daughter Anne (Rae Davis) deals with a trio of varying suitors all played by Mitchell Henry-Eagles, with expected mix-ups and hilarity ensuing in that plot, as well. 

The sitcom structure works well here, with a fun soundtrack provided for the transition scenes, and a host of 90’s pop-culture references thrown in for good measure. The cast is excellent, with great enthusiasm and comic timing, and a whimsical production design by Laura Skroska with clever costumes by Kayla Lindsey. The approximately 90-minute runtime is a bit long for a sitcom, and it might have benefited from a little bit of trimming. Still, the whole cast and crew manage to keep up the spirit of the show throughout. Overly, as the only cast member who doesn’t play multiple roles, is an energetic Falstaff, and the rest of the players are commendable in their sheer versatility. 

I love the TourCo shows because they are so accessible. It’s not just free Shakespeare, like the headline shows in Forest Park each year. These are shows that go to various different venues throughout the region. I saw Merry Wives in Tower Grove Park, and if you look at STLSF’s website, you will find the schedule and locations for the rest of the run. It’s more than worth checking out. Even with its slightly long runtime for a show of this format, it’s a lively, fun production that’s easy to enjoy, especially for fans of 1990’s sitcoms and pop culture. 


Rae Davis, Mitchell Henry-Eagles, Joel Moses
Photo by Phillip Hamer Photgraphy
St. Louis Shakespeare Festival

St. Louis Shakespeare Festival’s TourCo is presenting Merry Wives in various locations until August 29. 2023

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