Ferretbrain Presents: The Complete Works of Shakespeare Episode 11 - The Merry Wives of Windsor

by Wardog

We watch a fat man get hit with a stick.
listen to podcast
(MP3, 48:23, 128 kbps, 44.20 MB)
After a Christmas holiday, and a diversion into other topics, Dan and Kyra are back with the bard.

Kyra wishes they weren't.

Also - our next play is The Two Gentleman of Verona, God help us. We are begging for a guest star.

For someone in the vague vicinity of Oxford, we can offer a spare room to crash in if necessary and our delightful company.

And we've also managed to use Skype fairly effectively.

Themes: Bard-a-thon

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Comments (go to latest)
http://alula_auburn.livejournal.com/ at 23:40 on 2013-01-31
Oh, dear. Two Gentlemen, iirc, is both heavy on bromance and kind of rape-y. Plus, you know, the bit with the dog.

I am very far from Oxford, and only vaguely competent at Skype, but if you're really desperate (as in, literally get no better offers. . .)
Daniel F at 10:36 on 2013-02-01
...wow, there's just nothing to say about this one, is there?

I am also really far from Oxford, but if you are desperate for Skypers and want a complete stranger nattering in your ear, have another offer.
http://roisindubh211.livejournal.com/ at 20:47 on 2013-02-03

Ahem. I mean, I'm not too far from Oxford and would love to help out.
Shim at 16:55 on 2013-02-04
To be fair, this sounds more like my level of sophistication and education than most Shakespeare. Hitting fat men with sticks I can cope with.
Wardog at 12:47 on 2013-02-16
Sorry for the delayed response to this - the busyness did strike hard.

Thankfully Robinson stepped in to rescue us from Two Dudes Of Wossname (and brought cookies).


I adore complete strangers nattering in my ear and, frankly, I'm am LOVING having guests.

Currently we have 3 Henrys in a row but after that the order is:

1) Hamlet
2) Romeo and Juliet
3) Macbeth
4) King Lear
5) Midsummer Night's Dream
6) The Tempest
7) Othello
8) Henry V
9) Merchant of Venice
10) Julies Caesar
11) Anthony and Cleopatra
12) Much Ado About Nothing
13) Richard III
14) Twelfth Night
15) Taming of the Shrew
16) Titus Andronicus
17) Henry IV pt 1-2
18) The Winter's Tale
19) Measure for Measure
20) The Comedy of Errors
21) Love's Labours Lost

So, pick your poison and we'll set something up :)

(I promise all previous guests have made it out again, entirely alive on only moderately scathed).
Daniel F at 02:03 on 2013-02-17
Then I have to express interest in Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra, because 1) I did Caesar in high school and have always had a soft spot for it and 2) half of my undergrad was on the Roman republic. So I like them and I have a spurious claim to expertise! What could go wrong?

On a different note... wow, you put Richard III a long way down that list.
Cheriola at 06:18 on 2013-04-13
You know, I should have hated this. I mean, it's the kind of farce and broad soapy comedy that normally leaves me completely cold. And a plot that relies largely on fat-phobia, national stereotyping (I got the impression that half the characters were recent immigrants, hence the misappropriations) and patriarchal values? Yeah, no.

But even though I thought it dragged on for too long in the first part, I actually laughed a few times and quite liked it by the end. For me, the funny bits were more meta... trying to figure out which references to Greco-Roman myth were actually accurate and which were meant to be misremembered by the characters; the fact that national stereotypes either haven't changed since the Elizabethan age ("There is no jealousy in France"; "I wouldn't give aqua vitae to an Irishman" (or something like that)) or are kind of ridiculously out of left-field by modern standards ("everyone knows all Germans are honest"); and watching Sir Ben Kingsley, serious character actor, do his best impression of Louis de Funès... I guess it also helped that I really, really disliked Falstaff in every version of Henry IV/V I've seen (I know he's meant to be charming, funny and a good friend in that play, but I just found him a manipulative user, a criminal and a self-serving liar and embarrassing at best), so I felt he deserved the trolling for being an ass to other people in his life and it didn't feel like they were all just being mean to the fat guy. The play did make a point of reminding the audience that he's an abusive ass by telling us he stole from someone who has less social status than him, beat up some servants and will get away with it because he's got rank. (I actually found him a bit more funny in this play, because apart from the beginning and the "Yes, I'll totally ruin her reputation for you so that you can blackmail her into giving in to your stalkery lust" part, he mostly wasn't actively awful, and at the same time made some self-aware jokes and snarky puns.)

And the climax was just such a creatively, ridiculously over-elaborate prank with the whole village making costumes and studying songs and dances, that it's just funny in an unreal kind of way. Like... you sit there and go "What? Herne the Hunter? Getting the kids dressed up as KKK fairies? What?!" And at the same time, the characters seem to have such fun arranging all this, especially the priest and the Doctor's housekeeper playing Elizabeth II as the fairy queen, that it's just infectious at that point. (Also, did you notice that the housekeeper was getting it on with the one rakishly handsome servant of Falstaff in the background shortly before that? Where did that come from? I mean, I'm happy for her and all, but did those two ever even talk before that?)

I also found all the female characters very likeable in this play, probably mainly because of good acting, so I was rooting for them to get one over the patriarchy (i.e. the possessive husband and the presumptive/harrassing Falstaff). I mean, it's quite rare in a Shakespeare play that the female characters are shown to be both intelligent/plot-driving and not villainous or otherwise needing to be taught how to behave like a 'proper woman'. (Rosalind and most of the plot of "As you like it" was based on a novel that was popular at the time, as far as I know.) It's maybe not funny in the way Shakespeare meant it, but it all resolves quite happily.
And the only guy the play doesn't make fun off is the one who treats his wife with trust and respect and generally is a good guy by modern standards. As I understood it, he didn't want the noble suitor his daughter was in love with because he had kept bad company in the past and just seemed like he wanted her money to finance his partying - which the guy admitted was true, at least at first. The shy, Jewish middle class guy the father supported instead would at least have been harmless and easy to keep under control for his wife, as well as being reasonably young and good-looking. Plus, he was living in the village, so she wouldn't be isolated from the support of her family as she will be at court. It was a decent decision, as far as deciding something like that for your teenage daughter goes. Wasn't his fault that, in this case, the charming rogue really was changed by the love of a good woman.
I also was surprised how much the play made of the jealous (and in this interpretation, slightly abusive) husband genuinely begging forgiveness of his wife and resolving to be better in the future. And that Falstaff got out with some dignity in the end. I hadn't expected that what is basically largely a mean-spirited cringe-comedy would have a happy ending that I could truly accept as such.

By the way, I got the impression that Anne Page was plenty smitten with her nobleman suitor, at least going by her body language in the scene with the talk in the Garden between them, and the one including her mother. Whereas she seemed at best vaguely indulgent towards shy, Jewish guy, mostly more embarrassed for him. I really don't get what you two were talking about in this regard. The mother actively has to pull them apart at the end.
Shim at 14:06 on 2014-10-27
So I'm listening to this - again, because I am in another country a long way from my friends, truly it is a sad thing - and it turns out I know things!

Bucolic is indeed prancing about in the countryside. I know this because it relates to bochilley, a Gaelic word for shepherd. So it's things relating to an idealised version of the countryside.

Also, I'm pretty sure the Host of the Garter is not (sadly) a fae power-broker or group of vampire-hunters with Tudor antecedents, but someone who owns a pub.
Daniel F at 05:16 on 2014-10-28
I thought 'bucolic' was from the Greek boukolos, also meaning shepherd? I would assume it's related to bochilley: it always blows my mind a bit that languages from the very opposite sides of Europe can be so closely linked!
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