Read "The Merry Wives of Windsor"

If I be served such another trick, I'll have my brains ta'en out, and buttered, and give them to a dog for a New Year's gift. Falstaff

Falstaff may have died offstage in Henry V, but you can't keep a great character down - the story goes that Queen Elisabeth was so fond of the old rogue that she asked for another play with him in it, and Shakespeare whipped off this comedy.  Many of Falstaff's companions in the Henry IV plays, are here too: Mistress Quickly with her malapropisms (though she doesn't seem to recognize him), Justice Shallow, Bardolph (finding his true calling as a tapster), Nym, and Pistol, as ever full of braggadocio:

Why, then the world's mine oyster,
Which I with sword will open.

But this play is unique among Shakespeare's comedies for having no Princes, Dukes or Kings - the rest of the characters are the middle class citizens of Windsor.  It may be that this play represents the time after Falstaff was banished from Henry's presence, and he was pensioned in that town.  Falstaff doesn't find his funds sufficient, though, so he turns off his friends (who promptly retaliate by carrying tales on him).  Next he tries to charm his way into the beds and purses of two of Windsor's worthy wives, Mistress Ford and Mistress Page.   They are not impressed.

I will find you twenty lascivious turtles ere one chaste man. Mistress Page

The merry wives decide to punish him for his gall, and vow to have revenge:

as sure as his guts are made of puddings....

We'll use this unwholesome humidity, this gross watery pumpion; we'll teach him to know turtles from jays.

They cheerfully contrive his comeuppance over and over again - persuading him to hide from a suspicious husband in a basket of dirty laundry,

The rankest compound of villanous smell that ever offended nostril,

and then having him dunked in a muddy river is only the beginning.

Meanwhile, Mistress Page's daughter Ann must do her own conspiring to avoid the marriages her parents try to set up (to the dim-witted Slender and the irascible Dr. Caius) so that she may wed her beloved Fenton, who (as the genial Host describes him) is preferable on all counts:

He capers, he dances, he has eyes of youth, he writes verses, he speaks holiday, he smells April and May.

If this plot sounds like it belongs to a comic opera written in Italian - well, Verdi thought so too, so he composed one.  Reading the play, we have the pleasure of Shakespeare's linguistic zest.

I do begin to perceive that I am made into an ass. Falstaff

LOCATION & LOGISTICS: We're going to try meeting a half-hour later, at 1:30.  We'll meet at the Montlake Branch of Seattle Public Library at[masked]th Ave E., in the meeting room. (This event is not sponsored by the Seattle Public Library.)  See here for directions: . Metro buses 25, 43 and 48 serve this branch, and there are parking spaces at the library.

We can bring food into the meeting room as long as we clean up afterwards.  This is a medium length play.  Allow for distributing parts, taking an intermission and optional discussion at the end.

Bring a copy of the text if you have one, but if you don't, don't worry - we can share.   It's not necessary to read the play before hand, but it's helpful to be familiar with the plot

Once again, I don't have  a synopsis written - but you could easily Google one if you like!

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  • Barbara


    November 18, 2012

  • Toni

    Thank you, Nancy. The dates are the sticky wicket for me. This is great.

    November 14, 2012

    • Nancy E.

      Does a 1 vs 1:30 start time make a big difference to you?

      November 14, 2012

    • Toni

      Yes. I live close to the north city limit ( NE 130th), work from home and always work Sats. until 1pm. This new incarnation of the group seems to get started later than the stated start time but you're all having lovely chat then. It would be nice to get to know everyone rather than arriving just in time to start reading or after it's begun.

      November 15, 2012

  • Nancy E.

    In response to Toni's request, I've put up (but not yet announced by e-mail) bare-bones meet-up listings for Dec and Jan - dates and locations, and plays if they've been decided, or some choices to consider. I wasn't sure whether to put the times as 1:00 or 1:30 - we can discuss that. I hope that's helpful.

    November 14, 2012

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