The Merry Wives of Windsor at The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

by David Fox

The Merry Wives of Windsor at The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

The Only Way is Windsor!

Shakespeare meets TOWIE in the RSC’s hilarious new RSC production of The Merry Wives of Windsor at The RSC, Stratford-upon-Avon until 22nd September. An outrageous and fun-filled version of Shakespeare’s hilarious comedy of suburbia, wives and over-inflated egos, directed by Fiona Laird.

Photo by Manuel Harlan (c) RSC
Photo by Manuel Harlan (c) RSC

Drunken Knight Sir John Falstaff plans to hustle his way to comfortable retirement by seducing the wives of two wealthy men. But it’s the women of Windsor who pull the strings and in a world of wealth, glamour and ‘well jel’ wives, they finally tell Sir John to ‘shut up’.

Merry Wives of Windsor is part sit-com, part Carry On, part TOWIE and I found this new production from the RSC enjoyable, fun, and (most importantly) very funny.

Shakespeare was brought into the twenty-first century with jokes on Brexit, flossing, an audience sing-a-long, and disco at the end! It felt thoroughly modern with its costumes a wonderful fusion of modern fashion and Tudor styles, and the set was bright, bold, and colourful as the performances.

Photo by Manuel Harlan (c) RSC
Photo by Manuel Harlan (c) RSC

As usual this RSC production boasted an excellent ensemble cast who play their roles broadly for laughs, and who all seemed to be really enjoying themselves, often struggling to control their own laughter! Beth Cordingly and Rebecca Lacey were particularly good as the perma-tanned wives, and praise should also go to Katy Brittain’s performance as the Hostess of the Garter. However my favourite was (predictably) David Troughton as the mischievous Sir John Falstaff. A wonderfully comic performance Troughton is clearly relishing the role and seems to be having great fun with this role. A hugely physical performance as the drunken, fat knight, Troughton was hilarious as he struggled to hide inside a wheelie bin!

Afolabi Alli and Vince Leigh, Photo by Manuel Harlan (c) RSC
Afolabi Alli and Vince Leigh, Photo by Manuel Harlan (c) RSC

If you have never seen a Shakespeare production before, or maybe think Shakespeare is full of long, difficult speeches, I would urge you try this production. It is a funny, fresh, accessible, and modern version guaranteed to entertain you. The Merry Wives of Windsor is a must see this summer so catch it while you can!

The Merry Wives of Windsor is at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon until 22nd September and is broadcast live to cinemas on 12th September. It then and then transfers to the Barbican from 7th December to 5th January, as part of the RSC’s London Season from October 2018 – January 2019. Travel to Stratford upon Avon is easy from Birmingham with regular trains from Snow Hill or Moor Street stations.

Book tickets at rsc.org.uk/the-merry-wives-of-windsor


This isn’t a sponsored post. David Fox visited The Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon for #BrumHour for the Merry Wives of Windsor press night.

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