|The Merry Wives of Windsor|
|Written by Administrator|
|Friday, 22 April 2005 06:14|
The Merry Wives of Windsor, II.i: Ada Rehan (1860-1916) as Mistress Ford; Virginia Dreher (d. 1898) as Mistress Page.
STAGING MERRY WIVES
This modest but deft play has often been underestimated by critics, though it has attracted many distinguished performers (Galleries 3.2.26-29). This may be because reviewers tend to see its use of Falstaff as trivialising a major Shakespearean creation, or because of the story that it was merely a command performance by Queen Elizabeth, who specified a play about "Falstaff in love" - perhaps for some Windsor Palace celebration of the Order of the Garter. Certainly, the play's allusions to the latter group are distracting and often successfully cut. However, as a realistic, largely prose comedy, the play works well, and the lively character of the wives is well presented, to the disadvantage of a wide range of male stereotypes, particularly the obsessively jealous Ford. Its value is confirmed by its inspiration of one of Verdi's most enticing operas: Falstaff. It is purely contemporary in style and can be updated readily and plausibly (Gallery 1.5; and two entries in the Video Gallery). Its use of folklore is also effective (Gallery 2.3.16, 10f.1.1-4). See the Edwardian characters evoked by the opening of our production in the Video Gallery. HMR
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