The second the lights come up on the set of the Two River Theater’s “The Merry Wives of Windsor” you know this production is not your grandmother’s Shakespeare.
Sir John Falstaff (Jason O’Connell) is handcuffed to a bed with a ball gag in his mouth and wearing very little else. Mistress Ford (Nicole Lewis), in black baby-doll lingerie, stands next to the bed holding a gun.
The location is a seedy motel room strewn with clothes, liquor bottles, and garbage. It’s decorated with bulls’ horns, paint-by-number art, and a multi-colored carpet that hides all stains. Projected on the wall are the words “Right Now.”
Two River Theater tonight announced its 2016-2017 season, which includes Michael Cumptsy as Henry II in “The Lion in Winter” and Ruben Santiago-Hudson directing August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” Cumpsty and Santiago-Hudson, comfortable on NYC stages, bring their Broadway level work to regional theaters. Both men are returning to what they consider their second home which 2River fans are happy about.