Tuesday, 17 April 2012

13 - The Merry Wives of Windsor

Among Shakespeare’s other innovations (such as inventing practically every other word or phrase in the English language) in 'The Merry Wives' he also becomes the first writer to create a ‘spin-off’ from a popular series! Here the mighty Sir John Falstaff gets to stretch his comic legs beyond the confines of the Histories among the ladies and gentlemen of Windsor. Author Jasper Fforde, in his Thursday Next series of books, describes Falstaff as a 'PageRunner'. PageRunner being -
"Name given to any character who is out of his or her book and moves through the back-story (or more rarely the plot) of another book. They may be lost,
vacationing, part of the Character Exchange Programme or criminals,
intent on mischief." - Lost in a Good Book
Dr Fassbender - "Who is?"
This play is pure farce in the best sense of the word. Full of jealous husbands and hiding in closets (Dr Fassbender would be in heaven!). There are also so many asides to the audience and couples moving out of ear shot that I can see the play performed on a revolving stage. Possibly with Herne’s Oak right at the centre!

Or another comparison for the play would be with a good old-fashioned British sit-com - probably with David Croft as co-writer! All the elements are there; suburban setting, extra-marital affairs, young lovers defying their parents and stereotypical ‘Non-English’ characters with outrageous accents! Take this excahnge for example between Evans the Welsh parson and Caius the French doctor –
Evans: If there is one, I shall make two in the company.
Caius: If there be one or two, I shall make-a the turd.
Maybe not 100% PC but good fun none the less!

Finally – Shakespeare's contemporaries also tried spin-offs but unsuccessfully with such titles as;

Webster’s ‘Son of The Duchess Investigates’ or
Jonson’s ‘Everywoman Has Some Humour Too’ or
Marlow’s ‘Mephistopheles: Adventures in the Fourth Dimension’!