The Merry Wives of Windsor
‘Come, gentlemen, I hope that we shall drink down all unkindness’
Amused by the larger than life character featured in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, there is a traditional story that Shakespeare was asked to write a play about Falstaff in love, by royal command. So we may have Queen Elizabeth I to thank for this enduring Tudor romp through the lanes and fields of Windsor. The play is a reflection of English country life and is unusual in the fact that most of his characters are ordinary folk; part of a new and growing middle class, wealthy and aspiring, but with solid peasant roots. Karl Marx found ‘on the first act alone more life and movement than in all German literature’!
Few serious critics have shared Marx’s view but the play has always been popular with audiences and has been the source of two well-known operas by Verdi and Vaughan Williams.
This may not be the same Falstaff as the earlier plays as he becomes the butt of others’ jokes rather than being the confident and eloquent perpetrator of his own. However, Dr Johnson believed that the play’s ‘general power is such that, perhaps, it never yet had a reader or spectator who did not think it too soon at an end’.
The plot creates the perfect recipe for a lively and entertaining evening. As a setting nothing could be more appropriate than the courtyard of ‘The George’. We hope, in this production, to capture the real spirit of the play for your delight, in what we trust will be a truly memorable experience.
SIR JOHN FALSTAFF Jim Inwood
ROBIN, his page Christopher Owen
Followers of Falstaff
BARDOLPH Peter Hughes
PISTOL Chris Dawn
NYM Phil Cox
MASTER FRANCIS FORD, a citizen of Windsor John Shippey
MISTRESS ALICE FORD, his wife Carolyn Noble
JOHN Alan Caspall
ROBERT Peter Hughes
MASTER GEORGE PAGE, a citizen of Windsor Michael Williamson
MISTRESS MARGARET PAGE, his wife Maggie Caspall
MISTRESS ANNE PAGE, their daughter Nathanya Ginsberg
MASTER WILLIAM PAGE, their son Jasper Fishwick
MARY, Anne’s friend Rachel Silver
MASTER ROBERT SHALLOW, a Justice of the Peace Derrick Scothern
MASTER ABRAHAM SLENDER, his nephew David Cooper
MISTRESS SIMPLE, Slender’s servant Pam Nicholls
DR CAIUS, a French Doctor Michael Black
MISTRESS QUICKLY, his housekeeper Collette Parker
JOHN RUGBY, his servant Martin Richardson
MASTER FENTON, a young gentleman Peter Fishwick
SIR HUGH EVANS, a Welsh Parson Dominic Whitehead
THE HOSTESS of the Garter Inn at Windsor Susie Williams
CHILDREN OF WINDSOR Lizzie Bloxham, Hayley Gregory, Laura Hading, James Skinner
Director Mo Pearce
Stage Manager Malcolm Lyons
Assisted by Bob Pugh, Gary Mackay
Set Designer Colin Chalk
Stage Construction Kirton Construction Ltd.
Costume Team Wendy Usher, Terry Dick, Mo Pearce, Jo Fradley
Continuity Ruth Sherrington
Photographs Simon Ellis ABIPP AMPA
Lighting Design Andy Kendon
Sound Design Gerry Davison, Amanda Leaden
Make-Up Graeme Hammond and team
Publicity Marline Peulevé, Dee Wormald
Box Office Cheryl Cook, Michael Cook
Front of House & Sales Trish James assisted by Sandra Sturgeon, Samantha Sturgeon, Karen James, Emma Kibbey, Andy Kibbey and Team
Production Team Peter Barton, Roger Blackmore, Adam Bright, Mary Fishwick, June Forway, Sarah Griffiths, Pat Hamilton, Graeme Hammond, Rachael Hankinson, Lesley Harling, Chris Hunnam, Mel Pugsley, Maggie Redgrave, Ruth Sherrington, Kate Tweedly, Mark Usher and Team.