The “merry wives” are two middle-aged women who act to defend their honour against the lecherous and covetous intentions of an impoverished, conniving, and unattractive knight, Sir John Falstaff. The women show no reserve in playing tricks on Falstaff in order to escape his scheming, adding more than a touch of hilarity. At the same time, the husband of one of the women, a neurotically jealous and controlling man, also gets his just deserts. In spite of the pranks and mischief, good will is restored to all parties in the end.
Director Richard Walsh’s choice of Merry Wives as this year’s production honors the 50th anniversary of the publishing of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique. In the two merry wives, the audience will glimpse early 17th-century prototypes of 20th-century feminists. Designer Paul Bosch’s costumes and set evoke the 1960s, the golden era of the Women’s Movement in North America.
Shakespeare specialist Leslie O’Dell (WLU) has abridged the script for the Waterloo production and translated a few of the more obscure Renaissance references for 21st-century understanding. The result is a clear plotline and an accessible text.