… the only way is Windsor …
A witty production by RSC first timer Fiona Laird which brings out the best in this Shakespeare farce.
David Troughton plays a truly gargantuan Falstaff being outwitted by the sassy Wives, Rebecca Lacey and Beth Cordingly. With a very strong supporting cast, I particularly enjoyed Jonathan Cullen‘s Dr Caius who transforms into some sort of French Ninja for the duel; and Tim Samuels as the horrible Justice Shallow.
Fiona Laird plays fast and loose with some of the language updating the script and props to great effect. Falstaff’s laundry basket becomes a stinking wheelie bin and a pair of workmen speak entirely in Polish. (There are subtitles.)
The set design is stylish and fun. Created by the marvellous Lez Brotherston it is a perfect foil to the action however the true glory of the night are the fizzy and inventive costumes – also by Lez. A glorious mash-up of Shakespearean/TOWIE bling, they include ruffs worn as gold chokers; pin striped doublets and leopard print stomachers. Each one a delight. Absolutely fabulous!
The Merry Wives of Windsor is at the RSC, Stratford Upon Avon until 22 Sept; then it transfers for the pantomime season to London from 7 Dec to 5 Jan 2019. It will also be broadcast live to cinemas on 12 Sept. (Running time: 2 hrs 30 mins + 20 mins interval). Further details can be found on their website here.
Image : RSC/Manuel Harlan.