‘We’ve Merry Wives but no Windsor men’By Linda Fort
May 04, 2010
The open-air Shakespeare production was to be in Caversham Court this summer, but now it is not to be.
Progress Theatre has been forced to cancel the riverside staging of The Merry Wives of Windsor planned for July because too few men were prepared to step into the breach.
Last year the play could not go ahead because the usual venue – the Abbey Ruins – was declared unsafe and is likely to remain so for a long time.
But this is the first time the 64-year-old theatre company has been unable to put together a cast.
Marketing manager for the open-air production Tony Wernham said the uncertainty over where the play could be staged was one the reasons for the cancellation.
He said: “Obviously at the beginning of the year we didn’t know whether we were going to find a venue at all.
“Then the possibility of Caversham Court came up and we had to make a number of decisions on how we could do it there. It was decided it would be a pared down production without seating, for example.
“By the time those decisions had been made our auditions were a little later than usual.
“We got enough women to fill the female roles but there were not enough men.
“Some men came forward and said they would have been able to fill the minor roles but there were not enough of sufficient ability to take on the major roles.
“The director (Anne Latto) took the decision that we could not go ahead. She is an extremely experienced director and she knew it would not be possible.”
Mr Wernham added: “It is disappointing. I don’t know about next year because we don’t know yet whether we will be able to have Caversham Court again. The Abbey Ruins may be closed for some time.”
Progress Theatre has its own venue in The Mount off Christchurch Road, in the University area, and has two indoor productions in hand this summer.
The players will be performing The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh from Thursday, May 20, to Saturday, May 29, and Death and The Maiden by Ariel Dorfman from Monday, July 5, to Saturday, July 10. Visit www.progresstheatre.co.uk to find out more.