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The Merry Wives of Windsor at Royal Shakespeare Company

Home > Birmingham > Performing Arts | Comedy | Theatre
by Sarah Says (subscribe)
I am a marketing and communications consultant and freelance writer. Living on the Gold Coast in Australia. Check out my website or follow on Twitter @WENGoldCoast
Published December 13th 2012
A laugh-a-minute comedy treat
This was an absolute treat and just what I needed to squash those winter blues, and put a big smile on my face.

Shakespeare isn't necessarily known for its laugh out loud plays, and often people can be put off by the language and intensity of some of the plays, but this is just truly hilarious and a laugh a minute.

Set in modern day and dress, which works brilliantly as it perfectly taps into the "desperate housewives" culture, it shows that women should not be ignored and labelled just because they are older and married.  It's comedic success is largely down to the superb cast, in particular Desmond Barrit who is glorious as Falstaff and will have you doubled up with laughter with his larger than life performance, especially the seduction scene which was a particular highlight.

The Stage

My favourites though were the wonderful double act of Alexander Gilbreath and Sylvestra Le Touzel as the "merry" wives Ford and Page. For me, it was like watching Eddie and Patsy from Ab Fab, although not quite as crazy, but just as funny and charming, which leaves you wanting more.

In a nutshell the plot is that Falstaff, who believes himself to be somewhat of a ladies man, decides he will approach both wives in the hope of having an affair. However, he forgets rule number one, women talk, and they both decide to teach him a lesson he will never forget.  This leads to all sorts of misunderstandings, jealousy and scheming which all provide some fabulous comedy moments and allows the audience to be in on the joke and watch with pleasure as everything unfolds.  It does get a bit bonkers towards the end for about 10 minutes - well it is Shakespeare - but regardless of that it's still one of the funniest adaptations I have seen.

The Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Anita Dobson, of Eastenders fame, also deserves a mention as she is endearing as Mistress Quickly. The whole cast are on form and give some great performances, you can tell they enjoy performing this each night and that will be mostly down to the inspiring directing of Phillip Breen.  It's the women however that steal the show for me, which given its theme is very fitting.

The Royal Shakespeare Theatre has undergone major redevelopment over the last year and looks great, plus it now has a number of costumes and props scattered about the halls and foyer on display.

Costumes on display

It has a number of bars, cafes and restaurants in the beautiful Stratford-Upon-Avon for every taste, style and budget, including a new rooftop restaurant at the theatre itself.  Also check out the gift shop for everything you could possibly wish for, I could spend hours in there and never leave without something.

Gift Shop

There are also a number of quaint little guest houses or hotels close by if you wanted to make a night of it.

Highly recommended for seasoned Shakespeare lovers or anyone looking for something a little different to do over the holiday season that is bags of fun.

The RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon is located in Warwickshire and about 30 -40 minutes from the Midlands and Worcestershire, it is a short drive from Junction 15 of the M40 and 10 minutes walk from Stratford-upon-Avon rail station.

There are a number of places to park, both roadside and in local car parks.

Run time is approx 3 hours including a 20 minute break.
Shows start at 1:15pm or 7:15pm
Tickets from £17 
Running until 12 January 2013
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Why? To laugh out loud
When: From now till 112 January 2013
Phone: 0844 800 1110
Where: Royal Shakespeare Company, Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Waterside Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire CV37 6BB
Cost: From £17
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