Shakespeare in the Arb Returns
Shakespeare's plays do. There have been years in the past when I've felt myself gasp as a tree, a hill, a horizon, or a sunset magically fused itself to the action in a way that simply could not occur on an indoor stage.
The 2012 production, Merry Wives of Windsor, runs Thursday-Sunday through June 24 (see Events). Unfortunately it does not--except for the very last scene--involve natural settings. It's a play about urban society, wealth, leisure, and the kind of mischief-making that rich people get up to when they've got nothing better to do. So the Arb here doesn't provide much more than a really fun place to be. The prize for this year's best make-use-of-nature scene would have to go to Falstaff making an exit by parting a hanging curtain of willow branches, but here he's just exiting a pub. It's very cleverly done, but it doesn't have the power of those scenes where nature gets to play itself.
I don't mean this as harsh criticism, because my baseline feeling about Shakespeare in the Arb is that if you pick a still, warm evening, and bring the right snacks and companions (or lack of them, if that's the mood you're in), there is no better way to spend a night in June.