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The Merry Wives of Windsor

Plot Summary

Sir John Falstaff, staying in Windsor and down on his luck, decides to restore his fortunes by seducing the wives of two wealthy citizens. He sends Mistress Page and Mistress Ford identical love letters, but they discover his double dealing and set about turning the tables, arranging an assignation at Mistress Ford's house. The jealous Frank Ford has heard of Falstaff's plan and decides to test his wife's fidelity. Pretending to be Master Broom, he pays Falstaff to seduce his wife on his behalf, twice almost catching them together. The Pages' daughter Anne is pursued by three suitors. The French physician Doctor Caius is her mother's choice, whilst her father favours Slender, Justice Shallow's kinsman. Anne herself is in love with Fenton. Mistress Quickly is being paid by all three suitors to advance their cause. A duel between Doctor Caius and Parson Evans is averted when the Host of the Garter Inn plays a trick on them, and they in turn pay him back. In Windsor Great Park at night, Falstaff is set up for his final punishment -and one of Anne Page's suitors is successful.

RSC Staging History 1960-2007

1964 RST/1964-65 Aldwych: John Blatchley
Andre François (design); David Read (lighting)

Clive Swift (Falstaff), Ian Richardson (Ford), Timothy West (Page), Patsy Byrne (Mistress Ford), Brenda Bruce (Mistress Page), John Nettleton (Sir Hugh Evans), Clifford Rose (Shallow), Freddie Jones (Pistol), Morgan Sheppard (Bardolph), Ken Wynne (Dr Caius), Robert Lloyd (Slender), Doris Hare (Mistress Quickly), Michele Dotrice (Anne), Henry Woolf (Nym), Ian Hogg (Rugby)

1968 RST, Aldwych, UK Tour/1969 RST/1970 Japanese Tour/1975 RST/1976 Aldwych: Terry Hands
Timothy O'Brien (design); David Read, John Bradley (lighting); Guy Woolfenden (music)

Brewster Mason (Falstaff), Ian Richardson (Ford), Jeffery Dench (Page), Elizabeth Spriggs/Barbara Leigh-Hunt (Mistress Ford), Brenda Bruce/Janet Whiteside (Mistress Page), Emrys James/Trevor Peacock (Sir Hugh Evans), Sydney Bromley (Shallow), Morgan Sheppard/Richard Moore/Christopher Saul (Pistol), Don Henderson/Tim Wylton (Bardolph), Derek Smith (Dr Caius), Peter Geddis/Ben Kingsley (Slender), Lila Kaye/Janet Henfrey/Maureen Pryor (Mistress Quickly), Vanessa Miles/Susan Sheers/Juliet Ackroyd/Yvonne Nicholson/Anne Hasson (Anne), Anthony Pedley/Philip Dunbar (Nym), David Bailie (Rugby), Roger Rees/Gareth Armstrong (Fenton), Geoffrey Hutchings (Simple), David Healy/Denis Holmes/Don Meaden (Host of the Garter)

1979 RST/1980 Aldwych: Trevor Nunn, John Caird
John Napier (design); Brian Harris (lighting); Guy Woolfenden (music)

John Woodvine (Falstaff), Ben Kingsley (Ford), Bob Peck (Page), Susan Tracy (Mistress Ford), Jane Downs (Mistress Page), David Lloyd Meredith (Sir Hugh Evans), Patrick Godfrey (Shallow), John McEnery (Pistol), Norman Tyrrell (Bardolph), Geoffrey Hutchings (Dr Caius), David Threlfall (Slender), Lila Kaye (Mistress Quickly), Kate Nicholls (Anne), Ian McNeice (Nym), Teddy Kempner (Rugby), Tim Brierley (Fenton), Timothy Spall (Simple), Cathryn Harrison (Servant)

1985 RST/1986 Barbican: Bill Alexander
William Dudley (design); Leo Leibovici (lighting); Jeremy Sams (music)

Peter Jeffrey (Falstaff), Nicky Henson (Ford), Paul Webster (Page), Lindsay Duncan (Mistress Ford), Janet Dale (Mistress Page), Bruce Alexander (Sir Hugh Evans), Arnold Yarrow (Shallow), Campbell Morrison (Pistol), Mike Murray (Bardolph), David Bradley (Dr Caius), Ian Talbot (Slender), Sheila Steafel (Mistress Quickly), Francine Morgan (Anne), Brian Horstead (Nym), Alexander Wilson (Rugby), Paul Spence (Fenton), Graham Turner (Simple), Trevor Martin (Host of the Garter)

1992 RST: David Thacker
William Dudley (design); Jim Simmons (lighting); Guy Woolfenden (music)

Benjamin Whitrow (Falstaff), Anton Lesser (Ford), John Nettles (Page), Gemma Jones (Mistress Ford), Cheryl Campbell (Mistress Page), Paul Webster (Sir Hugh Evans), Jeffery Dench (Shallow), Guy Williams (Pistol), John Bott (Bardolph), Ron Cook (Dr Caius), Pearce Quigley (Slender), Barbara Jefford (Mistress Quickly), Catherine Mears (Anne), Roger Frost (Nym), Andrew Cryer (Rugby), Peter De Jersey (Fenton), Nick Holder (Simple)

1996 RST/1997 Barbican: Ian Judge
Tim Goodchild (design); Simon Tapping (lighting); John White (music)

Leslie Phillips (Falstaff), Edward Petherbridge (Ford), Paul Greenwood (Page), Susannah York (Mistress Ford), Joanna McCallum (Mistress Page), John Kane (Sir Hugh Evans), Peter Reeves (Shallow), Barry Aird (Pistol), David Hobbs (Bardolph), Guy Henry (Dr Caius), Christopher Luscombe (Slender), Cherry Morris (Mistress Quickly), Claire Marchionne (Anne), David Glover (Nym), Christopher Gee (Rugby), Jo Stone-Fewings (Fenton), Toby Longworth (Simple)

2002-03 Swan/2003 Small-scale Tour/2003 Old Vic: Rachel Kavanaugh
Peter McKintosh (design); Hartley TA Kemp (lighting); Terry Davies (music)

Richard Cordery (Falstaff), Tom Mannion (Ford), Simon Coates (Page), Claire Carrie (Mistress Ford), Lucy Tregear (Mistress Page), Michael Gardiner (Sir Hugh Evans), David Killick (Shallow), Kieron Jecchinis (Pistol), Ciaran McIntyre (Bardolph), Greg Hicks (Dr Caius), Adam Kay (Slender), Alison Fiske (Mistress Quickly), Hannah Young (Anne), Richard Copestake (Nym), James O'Donnell (Rugby), Chuk Iwuji (Fenton), Christian Steel (Simple)

2006-07 RST: Gregory Doran
Ranjit Bolt (lyrics). Stephen Brimson Lewis (design); Tim Mitchell (lighting); Paul Englishby (music); Paul Groothuis (sound); Michael Ashcroft (choreography); Bruce O'Neil (musical direction); Terry King (fights)

Simon Callow (Falstaff), Alistair McGowan (Ford), Rob Edwards (Page), Alexandra Gilbreath (Mistress Ford), Haydn Gwynne (Mistress Page), Ian Hughes (Sir Hugh Evans), Jeffery Dench (Shallow), Brendan O'Hea (Pistol), Ian Pirie (Bardolph), Paul Chahidi (Dr Caius), Simon Trinder (Slender), Judi Dench (Mistress Quickly), Scarlett Strallen (Anne), Ian Conningham (Nym), Christopher Colley (Rugby), Martin Crewes (Fenton), Tobias Beer (Simple), Matt Cross (Wart), Robert Burt (Host), Dominic Colchester (John), Simon Thomas (Robert), Lisa Thorner (Maid), Mary Doherty (Maid), Anna Lowe (Maid)