I really liked the set. Sharp’s design used the NAC Studio space to its ultimate possibility: she drew back the omnipresent black drape surround to make the entry way become an upper storey for the Boarshead Tavern. The stained glass treatment gave light and energy to the ambiance, and the heavy furniture not only looked good, but sounded substantial, and was a flexible prop that gave Sir john the ability to take us convincingly aboard ship, or into battle.
I liked the lighting. Munro gave us focus on elements without being intrusive; this is essential especially in a one-hander. Lighting became an essential element in developing mood and place, focusing on the essential element much as a camera will in film.
I like Handegord’s sound plot, a sort of foley that gave us people outside the tavern, a ship running aground, the charges at Agincourt, street scenes, all exactly right.
The properties are all very authentic looking, and Forbes’ handling of them gives them a verisimilitude that works.
I like the show, which all comes together in Roger Forbes’ quiet tour de force, which manages, without going over the top, to give us lavish renditions of all our favourite Falstaff bits, while at the same time giving us a new twist on some of them; for example, the epic “battle” that Falstaff re-enacts for Hal and the rest at the tavern, is done in three versions, thus quite plausibly milking the beloved bit for all it is worth. Forbes has a comfortable raconteur’s take on Falstaff–it plays very well.
I am glad this piece is given the full treatment: two acts and an intermission–it is worth it. Obviously, Wood and Forbes have a great fondness for Shakespeare’s beloved old character. The care given to the selection and continuity of the text, the setting and the other already mentioned aspect of the production are evidence of that. Falstaff is no Lear orHamlet, but he is a very entertaining being, well represented here.
The NAC English Theatre/ The Old Castle Group in association with Richard Jordan Productions Present
Falstaff by John Wood and Roger Frobes
Directed by John Wood
adapted from Falstaff, an award-winning novel by Robert Nye
Starring Roger Forbes as Falstaff
Set and Costume design by Eo Sharp
Lighting design by John (Jock) Munro
Sound Design by Keith Handegord
Stage Manager: Laurie Champagne
Apprentice Stage Manager: Wendy Lee
Assistant Designer: Véronique La Pierrière
Performance seen: 2 pm October 27, 2007 — 2 hours, 10 minutes (including one intermission) NAC Studio