Sir John Falstaff may not wield a fat-dripping leg of mutton; he’s plying his wiles in bayou country and may gorge instead on a bulging Po-Boy. Meanwhile, he’s got a plan, forsooth, within the bounds of the town of Windsor. Given that he himself is a po boy, large John aims to wed one of a couple of wealthy ladies, to ford Mistress Ford or turn Mistress Page. Never mind that both are married. Falstaff will devise something.
Thus the premise of Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor. And thus doth the rascal get tripped up and stumble when those wives become the tricksters, their husbands aiding in the plots. Verily, the women take charge. And two men fall in love with Page’s daughter Anne, falling on their foolish faces.
Director John Hardy stages this romp at Shakespeare on the Green, setting it in a multi-class rural community with aspirations to take on the patina of a bigger town. He also chooses to have Falstaff not the usual old guy you’d expect.
In attendance are such fol-de-rols as Justice Shallow, Slender and Simple, and two sometime companions of fat Jack from Henry IV turn up, Pistol and Mistress Quickly.
Among the anywhere-in-the- world references, consider the explorations of stereotypical social classes, gender roles, jealousy, marriage, revenge and that old devil sex. The Bard sends them up, doing so sarcastically. It appears that he intends to mock the prejudices of England’s middle-class against the upper and lower rungs of the ladder
This play-companion to King Lear on the Green has its parallels. Much mad behavior imbues each territory, one with fun, the other with horror.
Music plays on, as if, perhaps, a creole gumbo. Blues and such.
Laissez les bons temps rouler
The Merry Wives of Windsor plays June 29-July 9, Young Park, 411-1/2 N Elmwood Rd. Fri-Sun. June 30, July 1,2- Fri. & Sun July 7,9 : 8 p.m. Free. www.nebraskashakespeare.com