The Southsea Shakespeare Actors have crossed to Hayling’s Station Theatre again for their latest offering, one of Shakespeare’s earliest comedies.
That Shakespearean youthfulness shows in what amounts to an Elizabethan Carry On, full of good old British smut, innuendo and unlikely situation comedy. And the difference between inexperience and experience tells in the cast, too.
It is Lauren Farnhill’s deliciously bonkers Mistress Quickly who steals this one
Generally, the younger cast have a tendency to overplay while the SSA’s elder statesmen trust Shakespeare more and let him do the work.
This is certainly true of Nick Downes, heavily padded as Sir John Falstaff, a man who is a slave to his appetites and pays the price for it. This – as it should be – is a portrait in broad strokes, and all the more enjoyable for it.
As the eponymous wives, Paula Bartlett and Sarah Parnell are joyfully mischievous and play nicely off each other, but it is Lauren Farnhill’s deliciously bonkers Mistress Quickly who steals this one. And quite right, too. A performance of small detail and clear thought processes.
Audiences need time to tune into Shakespeare’s language and the beginning of the play needs tighter diction to make clear what’s going on; a lot of all-important first-five-minute dialogue was lost.