The Merry Wives of Windsor
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Karen Carleton
Performed in the St Enda's Park, Rathfarnham - Thursday 19 to Saturday 21 June 2014
William Shakespeare's comedy, 'The Merry Wives of Windsor', was staged by Balally Players, in St Enda's Park from Thursday 19 to Saturday 21 June 2014, Midsummer's Day.
There was great interest in the show and the venue in Rathfarnham, which was new for the group, proved to be very popular.
The park surrounds the former school run by Patrick Pearse, which is now a museum in beautiful grounds, managed and maintained by the Office of Public Works (OPW), the organisation with responsibility for the day-to-day running of all National Monuments and National Historic Properties.
From June to August St Enda's plays host to a variety of entertainment.
Entrance to the park, which is about 8km from Dublin City Centre is on Grange Road. The walled garden, where 'The Merry Wives of Windsor' was performed, is beside the old school building.
Director, Karen Carleton, assembled a great cast of players for this entertaining show.
Bernard Doyle as Dr Caius in St Enda's Park on Friday 20 June 2014
The play was first published in 1602, but probably written towards the end of the previous century.
The Windsor in the title of the play is Windsor Castle in Berkshire, England. Its story is set in Elizabethan times and it revolves around English middle class life. One of the main characters, the rotund knight Sir John Falstaff, made previous appearances in Shakespeare's Henry IV Parts 1 and 2. Apart from its many stage productions, the play has also been used as a basis for opera.
In the Merry Wives of Windsor, Shakespeare covers many topics and themes — from love and marriage, jealousy and revenge to social class and wealth. There's much irony, sexual innuendo, sarcasm, and comments and representations about different social classes and nationalities that can be recognised as familiar stereotypes even today, which gives the comedy a modern feel.
The play is centred on the class prejudices of middle-class England. The lower class is represented by characters such as Bardolph, Nym, and Pistol (Falstaff's followers), and the upper class is represented by Sir John Falstaff and Master Fenton. Shakespeare uses both Latin and misused English to represent the attitudes and differences of the people of this era. For example, much humour is derived from the exaggerated accents of Dr Caius and Sir Hugh Evans. Caius speaks in a pronounced French accent and when he finds out he has married a page instead of Mistress Anne he says that he has married "oon garcon". Evans speaks in a thick Welsh accent, which makes Falstaff declare that he "makes fritters of English". As in other Shakespeare comedies, the fun and laughter comes from characters misunderstanding one another.
A copy of the flyer for 'The Merry Wives of Windsor' is available here as a PDF file.
"Wives may be merry and virtuous too."
The Merry Wives of Windsor begins with Parson Evans receiving a complaint from Justice Shallow and nephew Slender about Sir John Falstaff poaching his deer. Sir John has run out of cash and is down on his luck. He decides to seduce his way into money by sleeping with the wives of local wealthy gentlemen, Page and Ford. Meanwhile Mistress Ford and Mistress Page discover Sir John Falstaff's letters to be identical and they plot with expert pranksters Mistress Quickly to punish him. Likewise, Mr Ford and Mr Page learn of Sir John's plans from Pistol. While Page trusts his wife, Ford is not so sure, taking the disguise of Brooke to divine Falstaff's intentions. Brooke offers Falstaff money to sleep with Mrs Ford. Falstaff agrees, but insults Brooke, unaware that he is Ford. Meanwhile, Dr Caius waits in a field for Parson Evans to show up to a duel, but he does not appear. Evans is, however, also waiting for Caius to show, but is in another field. Eventually both learn that the Host gave them different locations to prevent the duel — both unite to make the Host pay for this. More complicated than a sit-com and definitely written for fun, there follows the plot to punish Falstaff and show him that 'Wives may be merry and virtuous too'.
Part of the audience seated around the performance space in St Enda's Park on Friday 20 June 2014.
Mistress Margaret Page|
Master George Page
Anne Page (Nan, their Daughter)
Mistress Alice Ford
Master Francis Ford
Jin Rugby (Servant to Dr Caius)
Sir Hugh Evans
Host of the Garter Inn
Doris Cullen, Joanne Keane
Sir John Falstaff|
Pistol (his Follower)
Robin (his Servant)
Master Fenton (a Young Gentleman)
Master Robert Shallow (a Justice)
Master Abraham Slender
Simple (Servant to Slender)
Cormac Mac Gabhann
Front of House
Members of Balally Players
Hilary Madigan addressing the audience before the show opened in St Enda's Park on Friday 20 June 2014.
Photographs from productions are stored on the SmugMug.com site. The Balally Players SmugMug account allows for the viewing and downloading of images at various sizes if high resolution pictures have been uploaded. The slideshow can be run and stopped by clicking on the play (>) and pause (¦¦) icons. You can move forward and back by clicking on the right or left of the image. To go to the gallery of these images stored in the Balally Players pages of the SmugMug site visit www.balally.smugmug.com to see all of the available galleries of images and download copies in a range of different sizes.
(background) Rory Staines and Pat O'Grady.
(l-r) Sheila O'Kelly, Doris Cullen, Martin Brennan, Joanne Keane and Sinead Donovan.