The Atlanta Shakespeare Company at The New American Shakespeare Tavern presents The Merry Wives of Windsor, March 3-4, March 9-April 1, 2012. Join the cast and crew members for a lively Question and Answer session on Sunday March 11 after the show.
Sir John Falstaff, in Windsor and short of money, decides to woo both Mistress Ford and Mistress Page, prosperous citizens’ wives, and sends identical letters to them. Two of Falstaff’s discharged followers, Pistol and Nym, reveal this to the husbands, though only the jealous Ford takes real notice. Going to the Garter Inn, disguised as “Master Brook”, he asks Falstaff to woo Mistress Ford on his behalf and learns that the knight already has an assignation. The wives prepare to trick Falstaff. At the same time other complex love-matters are in progress. The French physician, Caius, in love with Anne Page, has challenged Parson Hugh Evans to a duel, simply because Evans has asked the doctor’s house keeper, Quickly, to help the foolish Abraham Slender to Anne’s hand. Actually, Anne – as we have seen in Act I – is in love with Master Fenton who has already enlisted the versatile Quickly as an ally. Caius and Evans are reconciled by the Host of the Garter who has neatly prevented the duel.
Falstaff is carried from Ford’s house (just as Ford arrives to search it) in a laundry-basket of dirty linen; later and “Brook”, Ford discovers what has happened and hears of a new assignation between Falstaff and Mistress Ford. This time Falstaff escapes in the clothes of a maid’s aunt who Ford, still unknowing, beats unmercifully as a witch. At length, the jest revealed to their husbands, the wives get Falstaff, disguised as the ghost of Herne the Hunter, to meet Mistress Ford in the Windsor Forest at midnight. There all is settled when Falstaff is assailed by a group of Windsor children, disguised as fairies and hobgoblins. Caius and Slender are each tricked into running off with boy “fairies”, thinking them to be Anne. Fenton and Anne appear, just married; and the end will be a journey home “to laugh this sport o’er by a country fire.”
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