The Merry Wives of Windsor at Swansea Grand Theatre
MARK REES caught up with director Peter Richards and Kev Johns as they bring a Shakespearian favourite to the Grand
HAKESPEARE makes you realises that nothing has changed in 400 years!" laughs local funnyman Kev Johns when talking of the continued appeal of the great bard's plays.
Next week sees Kev breathing new life into Sir Hugh Evans, the Welsh parson who appears in romantic comedy The Merry Wives Of Windsor.
"This is one of the few Welsh Shakespearian characters," explains Kev, who got a taste for the immortal wordsmith with Taffy Shakespeare last year, a play especially written for him and which will be touring the UK next year.
"I really enjoyed Taffy Shakespeare, and couldn't wait to do more," he says.
The Merry Wives will be produced by Fluellen Theatre Company, and artistic director Peter Richards says casting Kev in the role was an easy decision to make.
"It was obvious casting," says Peter.
"Kev's religious background, and his great success as the football-mad Vicar Joe in a number of plays, demonstrate his pedigree for the role.
"In the Merry Wives, there are a number of great comedy scenes, and Kev's eye for a great visual gag is worth a lot to theatre directors like me.
Although he does concede that casting Kev does bring along it's own set of challenges.
"We don't believe in changing dialogue or modernising the text from Shakespeare's original dialogue. This can sometimes be difficult for a superb comedy actor like Kev who revels in ad-lib and unscripted asides to the audience, so his discipline has to be huge to avoid the temptation.
"In rehearsals, I have the difficult job of making sure that he sticks to the script!" he jokes.
But while Shakespeare might not have written an abundance of Welsh characters, Sir Hugh Evans is far from alone.
"There are Welsh characters in Richard II, Henry V (Fluellen, no less), Henry VIII, Henry 1V Part 1, Cymbeline and, of course, the Merry Wives Of Windsor," Peter explains.
Alongside Kev will be Swansea comic actor Stefan Pejic, who will be making his Shakespearean debut in the role of Slender, while Christopher Hale (pictured) stars as the gargantuan anti-hero Falstaff, with Claire Novelli and Jayne Stillman pulling the strings as the merry wives.
"The Merry Wives Of Windsor is one of Shakespeare's broadest comedies. In this play his object was to have great fun and make the his audiences laugh. And that is exactly what we are setting out to do in this new production."