Written by Simon Downing
GSP follow up recent successes with Old Herbaceous, Fagin?, Three Men in a Boat and What's Wrong with Benny Hill with a new play about Sir John Falstaff…a rogue, a philanderer and a glutton, but also one of Shakespeare’s greatest and enduring comic creations.
In this new comedy by Simon Downing we find Falstaff, played by Giles Shenton (Old Herbaceous & Three Men in a Boat) in his bedroom in the Boars Head being nursed by Mistress Quickly.
The creditors arrive demanding payment. Will Falstaff resort to marrying Mistress Quickly in order to pay off his debts? Will he turn teetotal? Will he mellow in his old age? Find out the answers to all these important questions that Shakespeare never bothered to answer and join Falstaff and Mistress Quickly for an evening of jollity, frivolity, a definite lack of coequality and more Shakespearean insults than ever previously heard on a theatrical stage!
The play originally opened in Feb 2020 with most touring dates cancelled due to Covid......but Flastaff is now ready to be unleashed upon the masses once again!
21 Feb 2020 Phoenix Theatre, Bordon, Hants
22 Feb 2020 Phoenix Theatre, Bordon, Hants
25 Feb 2020 South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell, Berks **SOLD OUT**
1 Mar 2020 Vera Fletcher Hall, Thames Ditton, Surrey CANCELLED DUE TO COVID
23 May 2020 Glastonbury Abbey, Glastonbury, Somerset CANCELLED DUE TO COVID
11 June 2020 Cryer Arts Centre, Carshalton, Surrey CANCELLED DUE TO COVID
12 June 2020 Brixham Theatre, Brixham, Devon CANCELLED DUE TO COVID
18 June 2020 Middlesbrough Theatre, Middlesbrough, N Yorks CANCELLED DUE TO COVID
2 July 2020 Moorland Garden Hotel, Yelverton, Devon CANCELLED DUE TO COVID
3 July 2020 Cotswold Playhouse, Stroud, Glos CANCELLED DUE TO COVID
4 July 2020 Miserden Estate, Gloucestershire
15 July 2020 Torch Theatre, Milford Haven, Wales CANCELLED DUE TO COVID
17 July 2020 Caerau Gardens, Bala, N Wales CANCELLED DUE TO COVID
26 July 2020 Sussex Prairie Gardens, Henfield, West Sussex CANCELLED DUE TO COVID
1 Aug 2020 RHS Harlow Carr, Harrogate, Yorks CANCELLED DUE TO COVID
6 Aug 2020 Denmans Gardens, East Sussex CANCELLED DUE TO COVID
7 Aug 2020 Avon Mill, Kingsbridge, Devon CANCELLED DUE TO COVID
8 Aug 2020 Avon Mill, Kingsbridge, Devon CANCELLED DUE TO COVID
9 Aug 2020 Burrow Farm Gardens, nr Axminster, Devon CANCELLED DUE TO COVID
15 Aug 2020 Trebah Gardens Amphitheatre, Cornwall CANCELLED DUE TO COVID
22 Aug 2020 Leith Hill Place, Dorking, Surrey CANCELLED DUE TO COVID
30 Aug 2020 Wield & Downland Open Air Museum, Sussex
23 Sept 2020 Brighton Open Air Theatre, East Sussex
15 Oct 2020 Manor Pavilion Theatre, Sidmouth, Devon CANCELLED DUE TO COVID
16 Oct 2020 Cygnet Theatre, Exeter, Devon CANCELLED DUE TO COVID
A chilly September evening is warmed and cheered by Much Ado About Falstaff, an extra chapter of an already roguish tale and a peek at the goings-on upstairs at The Boar’s Head, Eastcheap.
Unsurprisingly Falstaff is in trouble again, meeting hard times with his customary lack of responsibility and choosing instead to seek solace in ale and good company. Now, with creditors hammering at the door, he must rely upon the steadfast (if occasionally muddled) Mistress Quickly to save him from ruin.
Giles Shenton effortlessly embodies all that audiences have come to know and love of Sir John Falstaff. He commands the stage with epic, rousing speech peppered with asides that win the audience within the opening moments. Opposite him is Suzanna Walters, a fantastic Mistress Quickly. As frequently foul-mouthed and jocular as the knight himself she still yet manages to anchor him to reality and stop him wandering off into his own manufactured legacy.
There is a merry war betwixt the two that is waged throughout the show, showering the action with wit, smut and an entire arsenal of entendre. It is here that Simon Downing’s writing truly excels. His mastery of the language is indisputable and used to great effect, less an act of imitation and more a faithful homage to that bardic comic relief we look for in the comedies and long for in the tragedies. Quickly’s loose grasp of the English language often wrongfoots a Falstaff more accustomed to spilling forth a Trumpian spew of undigested thoughts and forming the crux of his arguments from the parts that sounded prettiest. Throughout the play there is no subject matter out of bounds and no level not to be stooped to – from friars to flatulence, soliloquies to sexual health and even the occasional jibe aimed at Shakespeare himself for good measure.
There are some more tender moments, particularly in the second half, and their scarcity renders them all the more poignant. A glimpse behind the mirth reveals a solemn figure reminiscing over days of long-gone glory and good times with old friends. Falstaff now languishes in his attempts to live up to his own legend, all the while his health is failing him. However, the sheer hope that Quickly manages to instil in both of them – of a new life and one more adventure now to be shared – is truly touching, especially with Quickly having so long watched her own aspirations pulled apart by the whims of those around her.
But for the most part, Much Ado About Falstaff is an evening of silliness that revels in its humour and wit, be it bardic wordplay or fart jokes. “More Shakespearean insults than ever previously heard on a theatrical stage” is undoubtedly correct and these often find themselves met with the sharp clap of a slapstick. This latest show is a dose of good, unclean fun that embodies the spirit of the Fat Knight himself. To be enjoyed by Shakespeare lovers and haters alike it is more than worthy of its place in the canon.
Brighton Open Air Theatre, Wednesday 23rd September 2020
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