Reviewed by on    Theatre in Ottawa and the region  


Photos courtesy of the Shakespeare on the Saint Lawrence theatre.

MAID FOR A MUSKET currently running in rep with HAMLET at the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival is, to quote director Ian Farthing, “a wonderfully silly mix of local history and Shakespeare.” Very loosely based on Shakespeare’s LOVE’S LABOURS LOST, playwright Lucia Frangione has set the play in Prescott itself during the war of 1812. As well as literary allusions from that period, she has used local figures and historic events to tie it together, including the British raid on Ogdensburg.

Basically the plot revolves around three British soldiers who swear off women and frivolity for a year in order to study the art of war and glory. Of course their vows immediately begin to crumble when the attractive American widow Farnum turns up with two eligible daughters in tow.

As the cast is very large I can’t mention everyone, so let me just say that, as I’ve come to expect at the Festival, the cast is very strong. As Dr. Armado Allan Price is very good, complete with a heavy Spanish accent, while Eric Craig makes a good Lt. Colonel Macdonell and is an outstanding singer. Jerushah Wright is very funny as Widow Farnum’s two year-old daughter and Kerry Ann Doherty is equally so as an off-the-wall milliner. Her solo song is hilarious.

Kelly Penner does a nice job as the lovelorn Lt. Brown as does Warren Bain as Officer Macdonell. Mr. Bain’s Scots accent is excellent as is his guitar playing. David Snelgrove makes an excellent Lt. Gaugreben, complete with smoldering glances. Alix Sideris as Widow Farnum smolders right back at him. As I would expect from these two excellent actors, there’s all kinds of subtext going on during their Act II reconciliation scene.

The play opens with a very entertaining song sung by John Koensgen as Mr. Boyd and Paul Rainville, costumed as the buxom Madame Costard. It’s called “A Clean Song” and is, but with a lot of wink wink nudge nudge. It perfectly sets the tone of the play. Mr. Koensgen also doubles as the excitable Bishop Macdonell, while Mr. Rainville also plays the American Captain Forsyth. These two veterans are always good and Mr. Rainville is oddly believable as the bustling Madame Costard. His impeccable comic timing is very much in evidence.

David Ring’s cartoonish set is fun and appropriate, while Allison Hess’s music direction is good. The Act II trio with the Farnum ladies is especially lovely and kudos to all the onstage musicians. The costumes by Sean Mulcahy are excellent, especially the spiffy uniforms and those for the Farnum ladies in Act II.

Director Ian Farthing has done a fine job with the staging, taking advantage of all the entrances. His sense of humor is evident throughout in both the character development and the staging. MAID FOR A MUSKET is a light-hearted romp, perfect for a summer afternoon or evening. Besides, what can beat open-air fun by a beautiful river complete with birds and ice cream cones?

In rep with HAMLET through August 17, St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival tkts:613-925-5788

MAID FOR A MUSKET by Lucia Frangione

Director: Ian Farthing

Set: David Ring

Costumes: Sean Mulcahy

Music Direction: Allison Hess

Fight Direction: Dorian Foley

Choreography: Kerry Ann Doherty


The Canadians

Lt. Frederic de Gaugreben: David Snelgrove

Lt. Harold Brown: Kelly Penner

Officer Melvin Macdonell: Warren Bain

Lt. Colonel “Red George” Macdonell: Eric Craig

Dr. Adriano de Armado: Allan Price

Mr. Boyd: John Koensen

Madame Costard: Paul Rainville

Constance Ford: Kerry Ann Doherty

Barnabus Dickenson: Joshua Clayton

Bishop Alexander Macdonell: John Koensgen

Sailor: Joshua Clayton

The Americans

Francine Farnum: Alix Sideris

Rosaline Farnum: Shannon Taylor

Katherine Farnum: Rose Napoli

Thomas Farnum: Jeremie Cyr-Cooke

Maria Farnum: Jerushah Wright

Captain Forsyth: Paul Rainville