OVO’ s Merry Wives head for the great outdoor stage

Merry Wives of Windsor

Merry Wives of Windsor - Credit: Archant

The pitfalls of an outdoor production have not deterred St Albans-based theatre company OVO from relocating to St Paul’s Walden Bury for its annual open air Shakespeare production.

The Maltings Arts Theatre’s resident company OVO is putting on The Merry Wives of Windsor, directed by Adam Nichols, who believes it is one of Shakespeare’s most underrated plays,

He said: “I’m thrilled to be working on the piece, which is one of the few Shakespeare comedies that OVO has not performed before. It is genuinely very funny and is about as close as you can get to an Elizabethan forerunner to our 21st century sitcoms.

“What’s more, we’ve set the play in the present day, at an 80s revival music festival. Portraying Falstaff as a washed up rocker, who still thinks he has a way with the ladies, is the perfect contemporary reference point for an audience in 2015. Plus the music is great.”

OVO often includes live music in its productions; its aptly named Food of Love band in Twelfth Night has continued to play at Christmas concerts in the theatre. This year, Adam and the team decided that they needed to call the group of musicians supporting The Merry Wives of Windsor something more appropriate to the production,

Adam said: “We had great fun running through potential names for the band; we eventually settled on Spirit of Wantonness but not before we’d ruled out Johnny and the False Taffs, The Lascivious Turtles, The Cuckoldly Rogues and They Are Fairies.”

Previous experiences of outdoor productions with Macbeth and The Tempest mean that the company is well aware of the potential problems. They include making sure the actors can be heard, performing in an environment which is not a theatre - and of course the unpredictable nature of the British weather.

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But Adam believes that the joys of an open air theatre far outweigh those challenges and it offers a perfect summer’s night out.

The Merry Wives of Windsor runs from next Wednesday, July 1, until Saturday, July 4, with a preview at 8pm on Tuesday, June 30. Tickets can be purchased online at www.ticketsource.co.uk/ovo or by calling the box office on: 0333 666 3366.