The fat knight Sir John Falstaff imagines that Mistress Ford and Mistress Page are both taken with him and so, attracted as much by their husbands’ money as their personal charms, he decides to woo them both. But the women are up to the old lecher’s tricks and turn the tables on him with a series of humiliating assignations, midnight terrors and a very damp, extremely smelly laundry basket.
Gutsy, colloquial and bustling with vivid characters, The Merry Wives of Windsor is a brilliantly constructed farce and the only comedy Shakespeare set in his native land. It is also the ancestor of English bourgeois comedy and gave birth to a tradition that reaches down to the modern TV sitcom. The production made merry with the relationship between the life of middle-class Elizabethan England and the late medieval period in which the play is set.