Friday, 9 July 2010

Merry Wives at Ightham Mote

Changeling Theatre in conjunction with the Hazlitt Arts Centre have a summer Shakespeare Tour, staging The Merry Wives of Windsor at various outdoor venues in Kent, set in the 1950s with skiffle songs, and outfits of the period.

This evening the performance was held at Ightham Mote, a 14th century moated house; its historical and architectural importance may be guessed from the fact that it has a Grade 1 listed dog kennel.

My sister Sarah played the part of Mistress Page. The Changeling publicity billed her as follows:
Sarah Finigan is Mistress Page, one of the Merry Wives, returning after an absence of TWO years. And boy did the audiences miss her. Sarah ( or as we call her, Fin) has appeared in TWELFTH NIGHT as Maria, the Nurse in ROMEO & JULIET, a witch and Lady Bracknell in MACBETH & THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST. The last time we saw her was in THE BEGGARS OPERA/TAMING OF THE SHREW. She is going to be hilarious.
(She was.) Sarah is pictured here in Act II, Scene I where she and Mistress Ford discover that they have both received the same love letter from Sir John Falstaff. The prosecution of the main part of the plot is established:
... Why, I'll exhibit a bill
in the parliament for the putting down of men. How
shall I be revenged on him? for revenged I will be,
as sure as his guts are made of puddings.
The same scene has the witty exchange:
Mistress Ford
O woman, if it were not for one trifling respect, I
could come to such honour!

Mistress Page
Hang the trifle, woman! take the honour.
which perhaps goes some way to justifying Hazlitt's irreverent description of the play as the Only Fools and Horses of its time. Tonight's performance was outstanding, conveying Shakespeare's humour with freshness and verve, making for a most enjoyable summer evening. The tour is running until early August (see Hazlitt for booking information.)
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