The actor chatted to Love London Love Culture’s Emma Clarendon about the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of The Merry Wives of Windsor, now playing at the Barbican. 

The Merry Wives of Windsor production photos_ 2018_2018_Photo by Manuel Harlan _c_ RSC_258181
Photo by Manuel Harlan © RSC

For those who haven’t seen it yet, what can we expect from this production of The Merry Wives of Windsor? For those people who haven’t seen this version of The Merry Wives of Windsor, expect to be taken on a rollicking journey of knock about Shakespearean pantomime suitable for all the family, from eight to eighty.

Do you think this contemporary take on the play brings out anything specifically that hasn’t been seen before in previous interpretations? The production drags the play high-kicking and cheering into the 21 Century; it’s in an Elizabethan/TOWIE setting, which we found released surprisingly explicit modern parallels – specifically in regards to class, wealth and power structures.

How have you found working on the production so far? The rehearsal period was hysterical, we spent the first week clowning with Toby Park from Spy Monkey – the copious amount of silliness and laughter bonded the company hugely and we’ve had numerous comments from audience members stating that it is obvious that we all really enjoy playing together.

What has it been like working with director Fiona Laird? Working with director Fiona Laird has been an absolute privilege – not only is she fiercely intelligent and perceptive, she is also exceptionally talented. And funny! She composed all the music for the show. It’s a sort of funk rock, hip-hop mash up with operatic aspirations played on instruments such as shawms, viola da gambas and electric guitars.

Could you tell me a bit more about Frank Ford and what he has been like to play? Frank Ford is the overly jealous husband of the titular Mistress Ford. It’s a lonely journey through a nearly separate drama. He becomes insanely jealous almost immediately and runs riot through the piece in a raging solipsistic rant with only the audience for company and solace, whilst everybody else is having fun…

If people are thinking about coming along – why do you think they should? If you’d like to join us on a journey of unbounded joy through Lez Brotherston’s stunning designs and Sam Spencer-Lane’s glorious choreography, pick up the phone, call the Barbican Box Office, and journey to a world (to quote the poster) “ablaze with energy and delight”.

By Emma Clarendon

The Merry Wives of Windsor continues to play at the Barbican until the 5th January 2019. For more information visit: https://www.barbican.org.uk/whats-on/2018/event/royal-shakespeare-company-the-merry-wives-of-windsor