This must have looked a great idea on paper: Brighton’s own Treason Show taking on Shakespeare’s bawdiest comedy at the new open-air theatre.

Sadly, the reality fell a bit short. Maybe director Mark Brailsford pays Shakespeare too much respect but this is a slow-paced production, failing to catch fire.

There were some good gags (a nice one on Fenton’s name) and it’s a neat touch to change Brentford to Croydon (certain to raise a cheer from a Brighton audience) but these couldn’t enliven the evening. Comedy is all about timing and this was too often awry.

It’s indicative that the biggest cheer of the first half is when Paul Zenon’s Bardolph entertains us with a bit of trickery with a pint glass – it suggests that Shakespeare’s wordplay isn’t enough on its own. It’s a play driven by Falstaff – but Dave Mounfield doesn’t capture all the grotesque lechery and venality of the man.

Michael Chance’s Ford is the bright spot of the production, neatly capturing the essence of the husband’s jealousy.

And Christophe Philipps’ Caius has plenty of energy and a sense of comedy. It’s a pity that his accent is occasionally so thick that much of the effect is lost.

Let’s hope the show gets a bit more zing as it goes on.

Two stars