The Merry Wives of Windsor Synopsis
Our play opens at “The Windsor”, a retreat in the Catskills circa 1966. Justice Shallow, a local lawyer is complaining to the retreat’s chaplain Sir Hugh that Falstaff has swindled him. Adding to Shallow’s anger is the appearance of Falstaff who proudly admits to the whole thing. Falstaff tells his cronies of a new plan to woo two women at the retreat, Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Page in an attempt to get to their husband’s wealth. We meet the very French Dr. Caius who we learn is a suitor to the much younger – and far less French – Anne Page. Caius learns of a second suitor to Anne, young Master Slender. Because good things come in threes, we meet a third suitor named Fenton, and the horse-race is on; each hoping for the others’ disqualification. Falstaff’s letters (which are like Tweets on paper) are delivered to the merry wives, who in turn, set about to trick Falstaff. Mr. Ford, sure his wife is cheating on him, disguises himself as – what else? – a strange Russian, who colludes with Falstaff to determine his wife’s fidelity. In the laundry room, Falstaff’s carnal plans are thwarted and he takes refuge in a large cart, which is conveniently and quite theatrically filled with soiled linen. Meanwhile, the Anne Page suitor primary is in full swing, with each candidate trying to press his case. Fenton appears to be the frontrunner, since experience does not seem to be a factor. Winter is coming for Falstaff, who takes to the forest as Herne the Hunter. It’s all a trick, and our portly knight is roundly mocked and pinched. In the end, Anne chooses Fenton, Anne’s parents choose not to mind, and the audience chooses to applaud wildly. Easy choices all around.