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Weekend Preview May 19-24
Bob Dylan tributes, Deborah Voigt, Tom Paxton, Bill Kirchen, John Kirk and Trish Miller

Celebrating Bob Dylan's 70th Birthday in Style
Paying tribute to the greatest rock songwriter ever

FILM REVIEW: In a Better World and Of Gods and Men
Review by Seth Rogovoy

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Deborah Voigt Headlines Mahaiwe Gala
Opera star to sing arias, show tunes on Saturday, May 21

Famed Spiritual Teacher to Speak on Nonviolence
Mother Maya in free talk at Sruti Yoga in Great Barrington, Mass., on Friday May 20 at 7pm

Special Effects Wizard to Be Honored by Film Festival
Doug Trumbull to be Feted by BIFF

Weekend Preview May 12-16
Cultural Highlights of the Berkshire Weekend

Talk about a small world
Elaine and I grew up together, but only just recently met....

Berkshire Living to Cease Publication
A Farewell from Publisher Michael Zivyak

twiGs Branches Out
Lenox boutique launches new e-tail site

[MUSIC REVIEW] Avalon Quartet in Close Encounters at Mahaiwe
Review by Seth Rogovoy

[MUSIC REVIEW] Avalon Quartet in Close Encounters at Mahaiwe
Review by Seth Rogovoy

[FILM REVIEW] Bill Cunningham New York
Review by Seth Rogovoy

[FILM REVIEW] Bill Cunningham New York
Review by Seth Rogovoy

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The Merry Wives of Windsor
by William Shakespeare
Founders' Theatre
through September 2, 2006

Director: Tony Simotes
Actors include:
Malcolm Ingram as Falstaff
Elizabeth Aspenlieder as Alice Ford
Corinna May as Meg Page
Michael Hammond as Frank Ford
David Furumoto as George Page
Jonathan Croy as Dr. Caius

review by SETH ROGOVOY, critic-at-large, BERKSHIRE LIVING magazine

(Lenox, Mass., August 1, 2006) -- The Merry Wives of Windsor may not be anyone's first choice for top-flight Shakespeare, but in the production being given currently at Shakespeare & COmpany in the Founders' Theatre through September 2, it certainly is one of the funniest and most entertaining, and in its tramping upon prevailing social proprieties of the day, perhaps the most subversive and revolutionary.

But for our purposes, what's most important to take away is that under the direction of Tony Simotes, we have another winner at Shakespeare & Company. And in tandem with the company's terrific Hamlet, alternating with The Merry Wives of Windsor on the main stage -- plus the unruly comic Servant of Two Masters on the stage at the Rose Footprint Theatre-- Shakespeare has scored a knockout, one-two punch that, although summer isn't quite over, will probably see it in first place by summer's end in terms of critical acclaim and boffo box office.

In sum, the summer of 2006 belongs to Shakespeare & Company.

This silly sexual/romantic farce is propelled by antic, pitch-perfect characterizations and comic timing courtesy of an ensemble of talented actors, most especially Malcolm Ingram as the larger-than-life Falstaff (kudos to Arthur Oliver for an amazing costume design), Elizabeth Aspenlieder is outstanding as the bubbly, effervescent Alice Ford (you can't blame Falstaff for wanting to climb into HER skirts), Corinna May as the steely Meg Page, Michael Hammond as the suspicious, wily Frank Ford who retains his dignity, and Jonathan Croy as Dr. Caius, doing what he always does best -- playing clueless, self-absorbed pomposity to the hilt -- he's Shakespeare & Company's answer to John Cleese.

The cast goes a lot deeper, and there's hardly a missed note in this play, which is, frankly, hard to follow at times. But that's apparently always been the case, and it hardly matters. The basic gist is clear -- Falstaff tries to bed Alice and Meg, and fails. He gets his commeupance along the way, several times.

For those looking for meaning or a theme, there are hints throughout that this is something of a proto-feminist dramedy -- the women at times may seem slightly ditzy, but they are certainly no fools, and it's the men around them -- the husbands, the suitors, the seconds -- that flail aimlessly in their attempts to impose order on a world they perhaps once could control but no longer can.

But what's most important is this production is a great entertainment -- as always, terrific staging and use of the Founders' Theatre, wonderful sound and lights, and even some audience involvement. Again, there's a LOT going on at Shakespeare & Company this summer, including the free Outdoor Bankside Festival and several new plays, as well as Enchanted April. But if you only can see two plays this summer, make them Hamlet and The Merry Wives of Windsor, and your summer will be, theatrically speaking, complete.

-- review by SETH ROGOVOY, critic-at-large, BERKSHIRE LIVING magazine

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