By Errol Durbach
Director: John Wright Costume
Design: Marti Wright Set and Lighting Design:
Robert Gardiner Technical Director: Ian
Pratt Fight Choreographer: Nicholas Harrison
Sound and Video Design: Amos Hertzman
Dates: 14-23 November 2002
first time, all three sections of The Theatre, Film, and Creative Writing
Department of UBC are represented on the stage of the Frederic Wood Theatre
in one production. This is in the premiere of The Falstaff Project,
brilliantly written and adapted by Errol Durbach, presented with film
strip projections on the large screen backdrop, performed by a company
of professional and student actors, all admirably directed by John Wright.
Errol Durbach's script is a wonderful amalgamation of Shakespeare text,
from Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, and some lines from other plays as
well as sparkling, new, invented and inventive dialogue from the twenty-first
century. Add to this the appearance on stage of Queen Elizabeth II and
a corgi, Falstaff and his motley crew, Henry IV and Prince Hal, with princes,
noblemen, ambassadors, countrymen and citizens of London all in modern
The backdrop large screen projections present anything from Cheapside
and other parts of London in the Tudor period, to the English countryside,
the interior or exterior of a castle or an inn and a series of newscasts,
featuring large scale news broadcasters commenting on and introducing
scenes and battles, together with clips from newsreels.
The large cast moves through the multitude of short scenes at breakneck
speed, some actors playing several roles. Adrian McMorran as Hal is a
dissolute youth who grows up to be king of England, but he never quite
achieves the dignity of kingship or the charisma of Shakespeare's Henry
V. Bardolph and Poins (Matthew Theissen and Mike Griffin) are his youthful
friends and Falstaff's companions. Poins' violin solo after the death
of Falstaff is one of the evening's highlights. Shallow (Andrej Marko)
and The Lord Chief Justice (Ryan Egan) are nicely contrasted members of
the legal profession.
Falstaff, as presented by Stephen E. Miller, lacks the spirit, humour,
and enjoyment in outwitting others expected from this character. Bullying
reprobate though he is, he must have a certain attraction to make him
a leading figure and inspire affection in others. This is lacking here.
Of the women, Laurie Brazzill gives a well-acted caricature of the Queen,
while Lianne Saykora and Jessica Watson are believable as Mistress Quickly
and Doll Tearsheet.
This is a very enjoyable collage of Shakespeare's lines and modern attitudes
to the philosophy he promulgates. Once again John Wright and Errol Durbach
have cooperated to deliver a new, exciting adaptation with great flare.
UBC's Theatre, Film, and Creative Writing Departments should be justly
proud of this outstanding presentation. An added bonus to the audience
is a copy of the helpful, instructive, and beautifully presented Companion
Guide to the Shakespeare Project.
The Falstaff Project runs at the Frederic Wood Theatre, 6354 Crescent
Road, 14 - 23 November 2002 at 19.30 Monday through Saturday. For tickets
and information, call 604.822.2678.