merry trio

Samantha Spiro as Mistress Page, John Hodgkinson as Sir John Falstaff and Siubhan Harrison as Alice Ford. Picture: Manuel Harlan

The Merry Wives of Windsor

The Royal Shakespeare Company



“Why, then the world’s mine oyster. Which, I with sword will open.”

Keep off the grass, grab a pint and get to The Garter pub this summer at the RSC, where football fever continues into the night with devilish deceptions on the side-lines, red flags aplenty and jealous juxtapositions in amongst the Tudor backdrop.

It may seem a quaint neighbourhood in Windsor, where the wives shop at Waitrose and go wild swimming donned with colourful animal print dry robes.

But the deceptively comedic underbelly involves Sir John Falstaff, (John Hodgkinson), and his ego to be bundled into a buck-basket and heaved away into the Thames, so beware of the deviously revengeful mistresses Alice Ford, (Siubhan Harrison) and Meg Page, (Samantha Spiro), in their RSC debut season.

While Mistress Page and Mistress Ford trick the horny Falstaff into submission, love is blooming between tenacious Anne Page, (Tara Tijani), and Fenton, (John Leader), who in true Shakespearean subterfuge, manages to shake off a flamboyant second suitor known as Slender, (Patrick Walshe McBride) and even a ‘Turd’ Dr Caius, (Jason Thorpe). 

Director Blanche McIntyre keeps this production fresh and modern, appealing to all ages, with the fashions, Sweet Caroline sing-alongs and Euros vibe, keeping the energy high throughout as it all reaches a crescendo in the Windsor Forest seeking Herne the Hunter, with a few pinching fairies.

The Merry Wives, with a little help from their husbands Frank Ford, (Richard Goulding) and George Page, (Wil Johnson), and who could forget sassy Mistress Quickly, (Shazia Nicholls), who instigates the frivolous fun, acting as go-between and chief messenger, sees Falstaff conquered and taught a jolly good life lesson, which will hopefully make him think twice before writing more love letters to woo his many desires.

“She shall not see me. I will ensconce me behind the arras” Falstaff.

Revenge is a dish best served tepid so prepare to laugh your socks off at The Merry ‘Trickster’ Wives of Windsor at The Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon. Tickets are available from the box office on 01789 331111 or online at To 07-09-24

Emma Trimble


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