THIS PRODUCTION HAS NOW CLOSED:
For current London West End theatre shows
please use the menu on the left hand side.
Old Vic Theatre (London): Opened 7 June 2003, Closed 2 Aug 2003
Swan Theatre (Stratford): Previewed 22 Oct, Opened 31 Oct 2002, Closed 25 Jan 2003
Comedy by William Shakespeare. Directed by Rachel Kavanaugh with designs by Peter McKintosh, music by Terry Davies, movement by Scarlett Mackmin, lighting by Hartley T A Kemp and sound by Gregory Clarke.
The Merry Wives of Windsor was originally written at the express request of Elizabeth I, who wanted to see the return of the rogue Sir John Falstaff - and in love.
A delightful tale of mischief and misbehaving, combined with scenes of stinging and humiliating revenge as the fat Knight suffers gross indignities at the hands of Mistresses Ford and Page, the Windsor wives of the title.
This production plays in repertory and is performed by a cross cast ensemble of 20 actors who are also performing in Coriolanus.
The cast includes Richard Cordery as 'Sir John Falstaff', Claire Carrie 'Mistress Ford', Lucy Tregear 'Mistress Page' and Greg Hicks as 'Dr Caius'.
Rachel Kavanaugh's previous includes Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass for the RSC. At the Open Air Theatre in London's Regent's Park her productions include Shakespeare's As You Like It, Love's Labour's Lost, Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night.
News about the show
On 22 May 2002: The The Royal Shakespeare Company announced details of their Stratford Autumn/ Winter 2002/03 season which will run from 23 October to 9 February. The season includes: At The Royal Shakespeare Theatre The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (Previews 21 November, Opens 28 November, Closes 9 February) and at The Swan Theatre The Merry Wives of Windsor (Previews 22 October, Opens 31 October, Closes 25 January 2003) and Coriolanus (Previews 14 November, Opens 27 November, Closes 25 January 2003) Public booking for these performances opens on 17 June 2002.
On 24 March 2003: It was confirmed that this production - along with Coriolanus will play in repertory at London's Old Vic Theatre from 6 June 2003.
On 14 July 2003: Closing notices where posted for 2 August, three weeks earlier than originally scheduled.
Extracts from the reviews:
From the London Old Vic June 2003 run:
"The post-War setting for Rachel Kavanaugh's Merry Wives turns this romp into a sedate Ealing comedy of pinstripes, twin-sets and plus-fours... Fine performances, including Tom Mannion's jealous husband, and nice touches — middle England's distrust of foreigners is heightened by having Anne Page's suitor as a black US airman — help to make this a merry evening. But, like the libido of Cordery's Falstaff, the comic drive is somewhat muted." The Times
From Stratford October 2002 run:
"...If the RSC is to survive its current identity crisis, this show might help to forge new hope... Many years ago, the company fruitfully placed the farce in the 1950s... Miss Kavanaugh and her design team find new richness by taking us back another decade, to the 1940s... Richard Cordery, an RSC stalwart, goes up a gear as a delightful Falstaff, and the wives are spiritedly played by Claire Carrie and Lucy Tregear... But the show is stolen by Greg Hicks as an outrageously funny Dr Caius..." The Daily Mail
"If the play now at the Swan were The Pleasant Wives of Windsor, Rachel Kavanaugh's production would suit it down to the ground. But, though it has several amusing performances, the parts never blend into a giddy, blissful whole... At the centre of the play, where there ought to be a bubbling well of mischief, there is a large hole – a Falstaff-sized one. Having admired Richard Cordery so much in stalwart and villainous roles I am sorry to say this, but his supposedly ardent wooer, so hot to trot that he pops round to Ford's house with less than an hour of playing time, is a dud..." The Independent
"...The play almost always works in the theatre, and I have never seen it work better than it does in Rachel Kavanaugh's delightful new production... Richard Cordery is in great form as Falstaff... [he] finds depth in the role as well as great comedy... There's some cracking support. Tom Mannion is a superb Ford... There are spirited performances from Lucy Tregear and Claire Carrie as the resourceful wives, a deliciously dim Slender from Adam Kay and a comic tour de force from Greg Hicks... a tremendously entertaining evening." The Daily Telegraph
"...Rachel Kavanaugh's new production moves the action to the period immediately after the war, and the result is an evening that may not delve very deeply, but is intelligent and undeniably fun. Welcome back to Shakespeare that is entertaining... This is a cast almost entirely devoid of well-known names. It certainly doesn't need any stars: the acting is full-throated, generous and keen. This is one of those evenings when you come out of the theatre feeling as if you've been given a small, unexpected present." The Guardian