The Merry Wives of Windsor
"The Shakespeare Players' production of The Merry Wives of Windsor is out on video. This recording attests to the lively and well-received stage production from the summer of 2004. The video is professionally edited, with multiple camera-angle coverage.
The show opens with the Shakin' Shakespeares band, who provide a great rocking intro as the characters come on stage and begin to go about their business. The various musical pieces throughout the show add an entertaining, playful touch to the production. Kilian Peters carries the musical part of the show, performing musically adept renditions of 50's rock classics. Also the Welsh priest (Cem Avsar) breaks into a wonderful crooner as he prays for help against the wrath of Dr Caius "Don't Leave Me Now" (great).
The whole show has a light touch to it. With the teenage audience in mind, director Baasner shortened the script, removing abstruse references and complicated word puns. The audience remains engaged throughout the show, often breaking into spontaneous, enthusiastic applause between scenes.
The applause is well deserved. The student actors understand their lines, have a clear diction, and have fun with the situations they are depicting. Even the monologues, normally a time for embarrassment at school plays, come off believably. For example, Jan Schmechtig gives a wonderfully seething jealous husband in Mr Ford's 'cuckold' monologue. Equally, Angelika Weinrich, playing Mistress Page, revels in her matronly primness in the monologue after she has received Falstaff's love letter.
Each of the actors has found something of themselves in their character. They don't hold back in their portrayal, either. Daniel Postpieszala plays with confidence and a good sense of timing the fat and foolish Falstaff. Marian Heidbreder plays the hot-headed Dr Caius where, in the funny fencing scene, he lets loose and terrorises his poor servant. Catrin Czymoch gives a lively and unabashed Mistress Quickly. Obviously enjoying the role, the actress plays her scenes to the hilt. She, too, receives a spontaneous round of applause after a particularly sassy and fast-paced scene.
Director Baasner's biggest achievement is that her actors enjoy the play. They work together well and demonstrate real engagement on stage. This is impressive, especially given the double difficulty of Shakespearean English for German students. Their enjoyment translates into our enjoyment - the Shakespeare Players' rendition of The Merry Wives is fun to watch for pupils and adults alike.
Sarah Gross, journalist
"Ihr wart großartig! Mit Euren Merry Wives habt Ihr eine beeindruckende Arbeit abgeliefert, die an vielen Stellen das Niveau des Schultheaters übersteigt. Am meisten haben mich beeindruckt: Eure Spielfreude, die vielen dramaturgischen Einfälle (ausgedrückt in teilweise hervorragender Körpersprache!) und die ungewöhnlich anspruchsvollen musikalischen Leistungen. Eurem ELVIS ZWO habe ich schon meine ganze altmeisterliche Verehrung zu Füßen gelegt..."
"Es war wieder eine großartige Aufführung, und unter meinen Freunden und Bekannten schwärme ich ständig davon, wie Sie es fertig bringen, die Leichtigkeit und Dialogfähigkeit in einer Sprache zu gewährleisten, von der selbst native speakers sagen, welche Schwierigkeiten Sie mit 'Shakespeare's English' haben."
Professor Klaus Peter Steiger, FU Berlin
"The DVD is great! Your students are a credit to you. They obviously enjoy it so much by the enthusiasm they bring to the production. I think the language coach has much to be proud of too - their English was very good."
"You did it again!!"
Professor Kuno Schumann, TU Berlin