One comes to “The Merry Wives of Windsor” expecting broad farce, this being arguably the most comically potent play in the canon. Rich with humor and ribald in plotline, it’s among the most reliable workhorses in the Bard’s canonical stable.

As such, a director might be forgiven for dialing it in. Dawn Monique Williams was having none of that on opening night. Playing to a packed house on a perfect spring evening at the Allen Elizabethan Theatre, Williams and her troupe of bawdy thespians set the evening on fire with a night of theater that deliciously walks the line between classic Shakespearean hilarity and an entirely contemporary brand of satire. It takes guts to integrate 1980s culture into a play that was written circa 1597, but that’s what Williams has done, intermittently launching her actors into fabulously entertaining gyrations to the music of Whitesnake, Whitney Houston, and Blondie that somehow work ingenuously with the bawdy nature of the play. On production value alone, the costuming, lighting and musical composition are worth the price of admission — dance numbers by powerhouse choreographer Valerie Rachelle are superb. And we haven’t even gotten to the acting.

Read the full and raving review from Ashland Daily Tidings here.