'Ale Wives' by Mark Weatherley

Stratford's 'Here for Now' Festival at the Falstaff Family Centre

Courtesy of 'Here for Now' website

Joe Szekeres

Come get some ale with these ‘Ale Wives’ at Stratford’s Falstaff Family Centre

A new setting this year for the ‘Here for Now Festival’. Last summer the company performed under a tent at the Bruce Hotel. This year, productions will take place at the Falstaff Family Centre.

Before the performance began, I struck up a quick convo with the gentleman sitting next to me and we both agreed how important it was to try and get young people into the theatre. Even before that happens, the theatre needs to focus on bringing people back first.

I’m sincerely hoping Mark Weatherley’s tightly written script will do just that.

Thankfully, Weatherley made the right choice not to have his characters speak using the iambic pentameter rhythm that one would normally find in the Festival play slate. For one, our common vernacular language is used in his script along with some rather raunchy jokes, quick-witted puns and crisply written dialogue. Weatherley incorporates some current event references and plays around with their meaning which put a smile on my face and made others laugh out loud around me.

It’s an intimate playing space in the theatre setting. The tavern is unnamed at the top of the show, but we learn of it at the end. I’m not going to spoil the humour and give it away here.

The fourth wall is immediately broken when Agnes (Lauren Bowler), one of the said ale wives from the title, speaks to the audience. Agnes begins narrating what life was like in 1340 when this story takes place. Very shortly, we are introduced to the owner of the tavern Margaret (Daniela Vlaskalic and the two of them talk about their daily routines within the tavern and some of its denizens. Weatherley also plays several supporting characters, one of which is a tavern regular. At one point, the wives have to go to court to save the tavern from a shyster.

Loved Bonnie Deakins’ musty-looking set design. From my seat, I couldn’t figure out if the credible-looking props found on the stage from decanters to tubs and realistic-looking steins were real or were re-created. The rectangular playing space is fully utilized. There looked to be a lot of dust on the floor from my seat. Whether that was intentional or not, kudos because you convinced me.

Under Sara-Jeanne Hosie’s close direction, Lauren Bowler, Daniela Blaskalic and Mark Weatherley’s strong sense of slick comic timing is the highlight of the show.

The production runs for approximately 70 minutes with no intermission.

‘Ale Wives’ continues to July 17 at the Falstaff Family Centre, 35 Waterloo Street North. For tickets, visit www.herefornowtheatre.com.

‘ALE WIVES’ by Mark Weatherley
Directed by Sara-Jeanne Hosie
Cast: Lauren Bowler, Daniela Vlaskalic and Mark Weatherley
Stage Management: Patrice Bowler
Lighting and Sound Design: Stephen Degenstein
Costume and Set Design: Bonnie Deakin

Abstract Building
Black on Transparent_edited.png