Merry Wives in the garden

Date Published: 20.05.2019

Wadham gardens became Windsor, Home to Shakespeare’s Merry Wives for a pre-noise-ban student production.

Rain did not stop play (thanks to the Wadstock tent) and much merriment was had by all, as production co-director Kitty Low (Classics and English, 2017) reports.

"Beyond Front Quad with its imposing symmetry and the ducks with their entourage of paparazzi, beyond the chapel and its army of bikes, the clatter of poles as the Wadstock tents were heaved up towards the sky, lies Windsor.  

"Or—a rather drizzly Private Fellows’ Garden decked with twinkling lights, a bawdy inn at the far corner and a company of merry students in doublets and hose. Seventy seats are said to have surrounded Herne’s Oak, where Herne the Hunter himself emerged (or Sir John Falstaff as Herne the Hunter; or Harold Serero as Sir John Falstaff) every evening of second week (and on a Thursday matinee!) only to find that he had been gleefully beguiled by a band of taper-wielding fairies and the very wives he attempted to seduce. 

"Famously Shakespeare’s worst play, The Merry Wives of Windsor provides much in the way of terrible puns, under-rehearsed costume changes and dubious accents. Yet though rather rough around the edges, the merriment carried through to the audience, who put up with rain, venue changes (the marvellous Wadham College Entz let us use the Wadstock tent for a couple of performances—verily, a heaven-sent tent!) and dresses ripped from top to bottom. The costumes (by Olivia Boucher-Rowe and Catherine Cibulskis) were rich and varied, with charming hats abounding, and the set (by Hannah Wu and Anna Chamberlain) was simple but cosy and convincing, with an assortment of period furniture, brazen candlesticks and wood sourced from skips. 

"The band endured their situation on stage for the entire show with remarkable good humour, and their musical interludes and accompaniment during the final song brought home with vigour the tuneful rowdiness of Shakespeare’s public theatres. 

"Perhaps most fun for those involved in the show itself, The Merry Wives of Windsor was an excellent end to pre-noise ban life at Wadham and a truly joyous convergence of staff, actors, musicians and designers from all over Oxford."

Cast & Crew

Sir John Falstaff: Harold Serero
Mistress Ford / Master Slender: Ben Millard
Mistress Page: Millie Tupper 
Master Ford: Elanor Ludlam
Master Page / Master Simple: Pelin Morgan
Mistress Quickly / Host: Ruby Gold
Justice Shallow: Will Corbett
Doctor Caius: Lara Deering
Sir Hugh Evans: Philomena Wills
Master Fenton: Katie Voake
Mistress Anne Page: Zara Shepherd-Brierley

Flute: Daffodil Dhayaa, Jacob Golub
Fiddle: Katie Damian
Drum: Candy Yuan
Lute: Timothy Davies

Directors: Kitty Low, Rudabeh Gray 
Producers: Mrinmoyee Roy, Lizy Jennings 
Choreography: Maya Coleborn
Musical Director: Máth Roberts
Musical Consultant: Eliza Thompson
Lighting: Leila Roberts
Stage Managers: Tori Mangan, Lowri Spear
Set: Anna Chamberlain, Hannah Wu
Costume: Olivia Boucher-Rowe, Catherine Cibulskis
Marketing: Laura Henderson Child
Graphics (Calligraphy): Phoebe Bachsleitner
Photography: Flora Clark
With our heartfelt thanks to the staff and Fellows of Wadham College, especially Ken Macdonald, Mark Hogarth, Maria Slater, Alan Slater, Matthew Kempshall, Jane Baun, Neil Tindall, Frances Lloyd, Caroline Mawson, Katherine Allen, Claudia Pazos Alonso, Julia Banfield, Jo Yeomans and Simon Peedle.

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