From the 2011-2012 Season:
The Merry Wives of Windsor
Playing March 01, 2012 to April 01, 2012
A Suzi Recommended Show!
The lecherous Sir John Falstaff sets his sights on the wives of Windsor, leading to a side splitting evening filled with mischief, schemes, a buck basket, a wood full of fairies and one pair of horns.
A part of The Shakespeare Evolution Series!
Join the cast and crew members for a lively Question and Answer session on Sunday March 11 after the show!
Read the Plot Synopsis
Justice Shallow, a Windsor magistrate, and his cousin, Slender, seek out the knight Sir John Falstaff at the home of Master George Page. The rascally old rogue has stolen a deer from Shallow’s estate, and Shallow and Slender want revenge. Parson Hugh Evans, who’s with them, wants peace, however, and he suggests they use the occasion to make a match between Slender and Page’s daughter, Anne, who’s as well endowed with money as she is with looks. Page is all for peace as well, and he puts an end to the argument between Falstaff and Shallow by inviting everyone in to dinner. Slender, who has little appetite for love or food, reluctantly agrees to marry Anne.
Sir Hugh sends Slender’s servant, Simple, to seek out Mistress Quickly, the woman who looks after Doctor Caius to ask if she’ll act as a go-between and “solicit” Anne on Slender’s behalf.
Falstaff wants his servants to act as go-betweens, too. He plans to “make love” to Anne’s mother, Mistress Page, and to her friend, Mistress Ford, also. Pistol and Nym refuse his request to deliver letters to the two wives, however. They decide to tell Page and Ford about Falstaff’s plan to seduce their wives.
Mistress Quickly welcomes Simple and agrees to the parson’s request that she speak to Anne on Slender’s behalf. Doctor Caius returns home. He, too, wants to marry Anne Page. Mistress Quickly agrees to speak to Anne on his behalf as well. Finally, she says she’ll help Fenton, a handsome young gentleman who’s fallen in love with Anne.
Mistress Page and Mistress Ford discuss the letters that both of them have received from Falstaff. As amused as they are angry at his idiocy, they decide to seek revenge upon him by leading him on. In the meantime, Nym and Pistol do indeed tell Page and Ford just what Falstaff plans. And while Page finds it funny, Ford does not. He plans to approach Falstaff in a disguise that will enable him to spy on him and on his own wife, as well.
Mistress Quickly tells Falstaff Mistress Ford will welcome a visit from him while her jealous husband is away from home. She adds that Mistress Page will see him sometime, too.
Ford appears, disguised as a man called Brook who’s willing to give Falstaff money to act as a kind of Cupid for him. He (Brook) wants Falstaff to succeed in seducing Mistress Ford so that he (Brook) may then seduce her, too, so that he (Ford) can prove how untrustworthy she is to all who think that Ford is a fool to be so jealous! Falstaff says he’ll be glad to make Ford (Brook) a cuckold.
Doctor Caius is still hoping to kill Sir Hugh for interfering with his plans to marry Anne Page. The parson hasn’t appeared to fight the duel, though, and when the Host of the Garter appears, it’s to plead with the doctor to forgo the duel.Here the furious Caius and the terrified Evans finally do come face to face, but they fight with words rather than swords as only a Frenchman and a Welshman can hack it.
After some arguing, they leave and run into Ford, who’s about to interrupt the assignation Falstaff has made with his wife, and he wants them to come along and witness the fact that she and Mistress Page, too, are acting like whores, making him and Page, too, cuckolds.
Falstaff arrives at Ford’s house to have his way with Mistress Ford, but she and Mistress Page are ready to have their way with him. He no sooner starts to speak of love than Mistress Page bursts in upon them, warning that the jealous husband is at hand. (Little does she know he really is!) They get Falstaff to hide in a huge basket of filthy clothes, and they’re just having it lugged out of door (to be dumped into the nearby Thames) when Ford appears and begins to tear the house apart. But he finds nothing, and he’s forced to apologize for his behavior.
Falstaff bemoans being tossed into the river when Mistress Quickly hustles in to tell him that Mistress Ford wants to meet with him again. He agrees and when Ford soon follows, again disguised as Brook, Falstaff takes great delight in explaining just how Ford’s wife smuggled him out of the house, right under the nose of her jealous husband. And he explains, too, that he’ll visit the house again.
It’s déjà vu. No sooner does Mistress Ford welcome Falstaff to her home than Mistress Page bursts in and warns them that a furious Ford is on his way. (And once again, she’s supposed to be lying, although, once again, she isn’t). They tell Falstaff that he will die unless he disguises himself as the fat old woman of Brainford. And to further confuse matters they pile dirty clothes in another basket. When Ford arrives he’s sure he’s going to be able to prove his wife’s infidelity. But again his efforts are disappointed. There’s no one in the basket, no one in the house, except the old woman of Brainford, a “witch” whom he hates so much that he beats her up before he sends her away. This pleases Mistress Ford and Mistress Page to no end. They decide to forgive Ford and tell him the whole story. Then they all decide whether Falstaff should be further tricked before they forgive him, too.
The Fords, the Pages, and Parson Evans discuss their plot to make a fool of Falstaff, a plot which will bring him to Windsor Forest at midnight, disguised as a local legend, Herne the Hunter. There Anne and William Page and other village children dressed as fairies will pinch him into confession and repentance. And the Pages are planning other knaveries, too, all with the best intentions, of course. Page will arrange for Slender to steal Anne away upon this same occasion. Mistress Page will arrange for Doctor Caius to do the same.
Fenton tells the Host of the garter about the community’s plot against Falstaff – and about her parents’ two plots against Anne. He asks the Host to help him steal Anne away during the scene in the forest if the Host will “procure the vicar” who can marry them immediately.
When Falstaff enters the midnight forest, Mistress Ford calls to him. When he learns that Mistress Page has come with her, he isn’t daunted. There’s plenty of him to go around. But before he can “bequeath” his horns to their husbands, the fairies are upon him and the women run away.
Pistol and Mistress Quickly have joined the Evans and the others who now torment the fallen Falstaff, to punish him for his corruption. Meanwhile, Slender and Caius and Fenton each steal a veiled figure from the scene.
Finally, the Fords, the Pages, and the others reveal themselves and their trick to Falstaff. Falstaff has to admit that they’ve made a fool of him. Page invites him home to help them all celebrate Slender’s marriage to Anne. Or will it be Caius’ marriage to Anne, as Mistress Page expects it to be? Neither, it seems. For Slender arrives to complain that he’s been cozened – he has almost married a boy! And Caius comes along complaining that he has married a boy indeed!
Only when Anne and Fenton appear to announce that they are man and wife do Anne’s parents understand that each of them has been subject to some well-deserved cozening, too. They freely admit their folly, though, and welcome Fenton into the family, making Anne the merriest (as well as the newest) of the merry wives of Windsor.
Directed by Artistic Director Jeff Watkins
Act One - 75 min / Act Two - 55 min
Sir John Falstaff - J. Tony Brown*
Mistress Ford - Laura Cole
Mistress Page - Mary Russell
Master Ford - Matt Nitchie
Master Page - Nicholas Faircloth
Doctor Caius - Drew Reeves*
Slender - Paul Hester*
Fenton - Caleb Z. Lawton
Jack Rugby - Bryan Lee
Sir Hugh Evans - Jeff McKerley*
Anne Page - Kirsten Calvert
Robert Shallow - Doug Kaye*
Simple - Matt Felten
Mistress Quickly - Rivka Levin*
Host of the Garter - Troy Willis*
Bardolph - Vinnie Mascola
Pistol - Daniel Parvis
Nym - Drew Reeves*
William - Bryan Lee
Bardometer RatingHow difficult is this Shakespearean play to grasp? On a scale of 1 to 10.
What does rating this mean?
You may already know the story and what happens at the end. But even if you don’t, the play is light and the plot is easy to follow. Limited violence, limited bawdiness (though please note that Shakespeare was a bawdy writer, you can’t escape it in any of his plays). There are very few things – historical, religious, or political – that you need to know ahead of time. Just enjoy!
We recommend this type of play to families, school-age kids, first-timers to Shakespeare, or anyone who just wants to do something fun on a night off. This type of play is perfect for large groups like birthday parties or special event gatherings.
How to prepare for seeing this kind of play: Just show up! You don’t need to know the play to follow along and enjoy.