Oddsocks, famous for seizing the sails of Shakespeare’s best-loved plays & ripping them down the middle, have turned their mischievous minds to The Merry Wives of Windsor, which arrived at Bristol QEH on Saturday. In the persona of a 1950s television theatre company - with onstage studio screen monitoring the action – they perform a contemporary version complete with snatches of skiffle and interruptions from their sponsor, Mrs Quickly’s household remedies. Elli Mackenzie and Andrew McGillan shone in a quintet of jolly performers, delivering the ever-popular high-level of audience interaction, and some memorably funny moments: Mistress Page shuddering with orgasmic glee as the Bendix where Falstaff is hiding goes into full spin, the inept ‘product placements’, and a marvellous final woodland scene as the lascivious knight meets his come-uppance from romping night-sprites and Anne Page flees with her lover, fortuituously called Fenton – giving the best gag of the night as her father dashes off roaring ‘Fenton! Fenton! Fenton’ and Falstaff takes off his antlers to quip that many a dog runs after deer… (the youtube clip made national news in November – what a gift!)
But the audience laughed and clearly love this endearing troupe, which is what matters.
Interesting developments for all who hanker for an effective library service: the anti-closure protest has won its case against Somerset Libraries on grounds of European diversity legislation. Opening hours in 23 libraries have been reinstated and 11 are no longer headed for closure, but councillors remain defensive about their plan to 'pass the least-used libraries into community hands.'
"The world is changing and we need to change with it," said Cllr John Woodman, Conservative, citing pressure from a 'zero book budget' - a claim corrected online to £200,000. Another comment suggests: "Somerset library service has been one of the worst managed in the whole of England for many years... Now the council has a chance to rethink the whole future of its libraries the first item on the agenda is to dramatically improve the quality of the management. What (John Woodman) has said is such rubbish it hardly is worth the ink used to print it." Bath, which opens with another wintry scene, from a walk we did last year: The city is there, somewhere beneath us. Thick snow beneath our feet and a swirly misty frozen rain falling gently from grey skies stained with yellow... How very apt, on a day that began subzero and has now shrouded the town with snow.