The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa (2012)

The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa

  • June 6 - October 13, 2012
  • Directed by Christopher Liam Moore | By Alison Carey, Based on the play by William Shakespeare
  • World Premiere
Run Time:Closed October 13

Hanky-panky in Windsor—Iowa, that is

Senator John Falstaff has lost the Iowa caucuses and is deep in debt. Hoping to unload some local purses into his pockets, the D.C. politician eyes two women—both married, one to a man, one to a woman. But in this heartland homeland, where gay marriage is legal and the state fair is about to open, hubris gets its comeuppance. In a unique “translation,” Carey blends today’s language with Shakespeare’s words, mirrors his outrageous plot and comical characters, and unleashes a rapid-fire, shamelessly witty twist on the original play.

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After losing the Iowa presidential caucuses, Senator John Falstaff stirs up trouble in Windsor, Iowa. At the play's opening, while townsfolk are preparing for the State Fair, he's accused of campaign finance misdeeds against Mayor Roberta Shallow and her niece, Slender. Farmer George Page and Reverend Hugh Evans, a Canadian come to Iowa to help the state's transition to legalized gay marriage, work to make peace. Roberta suggests that perhaps Slender could refill the family coffers by marrying George's daughter, Anne. Hugh enlists Miss Quickly's help to keep away another suitor: her employer, Doctor Kaya. Kaya, enraged by Hugh's intervention and an unresolved sports competition, challenges him to a duel.

Since he and his campaign are broke, Falstaff's remaining staff members, Pistol and Nym, take jobs at the Come On Inn, where the manager is preparing to enter her beloved boar for a prize at the Iowa State Fair. Falstaff decides to woo a married woman, hoping to gain access to her spouse's bank account. Then, to improve his odds, he woos two: The first, Alice Ford, is married to a woman; the second, Margaret Page, to a man. When Pistol and Nym reveal his designs to the women's spouses, the jealous Francie Ford visits Falstaff disguised as man, hoping to find out whether her wife is faithful. The targeted wives team up to play Falstaff for a fool. Francie fails to catch Falstaff in the "affair," since the clever wives help him escape her outraged searches.

Meanwhile, a contest ensues for the hand of Anne Page. Her mother, Margaret, favors Kaya. Her father, George, wants her to marry Slender. Anne herself loves a young man named Fenton. A duel between Doctor Kaya and Abby's champion, Reverend Hugh, is interrupted by the inn's manager, who sends them to different locations for the fight. In revenge, Dr. Kaya and Reverend Hugh pretend to be FBI agents and foil the manager's plan to enter her boar at the Fair.

Once Francie and George learn the details of their wives' responses to Falstaff's wooing, all collaborate on Falstaff's final comeuppance. They plan to lure him to the Fair with promises of public honor (which they will turn into public humiliation). In the midst of it all, Anne's parents plan for her elopements with Kaya and Slender in disguise, while Anne makes plans of her own.

Artistic Team

Christopher Liam Moore
Scenic Designer
Christopher Acebo
Costume Designer
Alex Jaeger
Lighting Designer
Jane Cox
Paul James Prendergast
Ken Roht
Lynn Jeffries
Lezlie Cross
Voice and Text Director
Rebecca Clark Carey

Cast List

Senator John Falstaff
David Kelly*
George Page
Ted Deasy*
Roberta Shallow
Isabell Monk O'Connor*
Joe Wegner**
Rev. Hugh Evans
Daniel T. Parker*
Manager of Come on Inn
Judith-Marie Bergan*
Miles Fletcher*
Francie Ford
Robin Goodrin Nordli*
Alice Ford
Gina Daniels*
Margaret Page
Terri McMahon*
Anne Page
Tala Ashe*
Miss Quickly
Catherine E. Coulson*
Doctor Kaya
Brooke Parks*
Slender Shallow
Kjerstine Rose Anderson*
DeLanna Studi*
Brittany Brook
Nikolas Horaites
Mikkei Fritz
* Member of Actors' Equity Association (AEA)
**AEA Professional Theatre Intern
  • The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa

    Sneak Peek

    Get a sneak peek of our 2012 production of The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa, directed by Christopher Liam Moore.

  • Alison Carey, Christopher Liam Moore


    Adapter Alison Carey and Director Christopher Liam Moore talk about their history.

  • Alison Carey, Christopher Liam Moore

    Early Thoughts

    Adapter Alison Carey and Director Christopher Liam Moore share early thoughts on the production.

  • Alison Carey, Christopher Liam Moore

    The Adaptation

    Adapter Alison Carey and Director Christopher Liam Moore talk about the script of The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa.

  • REgister Guard logo

    The Register-Guard

    “'The Very Merry Wives of Windsor,' Iowa is Carey’s take on not only Shakespeare’s well-loved comedy but also on the contemporary politics of exclusion and the rights of gay couples to marry. Carey’s Iowa is definitely a mythological construct, one in which corn, chickens, cows and cheerleaders loom large… Carey has a deft ear for taking Shakespeare into a contemporary idiom, and she does a fine job of mixing Elizabethan rhythms with 21st century expressions. She’s also got a quick wit, and the jokes pile on fast and furiously. The set, by Christopher Acebo, perfectly conveys the bright, witty tone of the play — and just wait until you see that cow!”

  • Daily Tidings logo

    Ashland Daily Tidings

    “OK, I know that Shakespeare's 'Merry Wives of Windsor' has been adapted, updated, inverted, extroverted and otherwise word-handled in a myriad of ways over the centuries. But I bet the Bard would really roll his eyes at this production. Think of it as Shakespeare meets Beach Blanket Babylon. Or a classical farce crossed with Ashland's Fourth of July parade. As adapted by Festival staffer Alison Carey and directed by Christopher Liam Moore, this is the Oregon Shakespeare Festival doing something totally and absolutely silly and — somewhat amazingly — it actually works.”

  • Mail Tribune logo

    Mail Tribune

    “Falstaff in Iowa. Get it? The fat knight, venal as ever, finds himself knee-deep in corn, cheerleaders, chicken jokes, pigs, a butter cow, gay marriages and corn, did I mention corn? There is a tradition that Shakespeare wrote 'The Merry Wives of Windsor' at the request of Queen Elizabeth, who wanted to see "Falstaff in love." What she got was no such thing, but something like "Falstaff in Love With Other Guys' Money Which He Plans to Get His Hanks On by Seducing Their Wives." Alison Carey's rollicking 'The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa,' more of a lock-stock-and-barrel transplant, nurtured by brisk, farcical direction from the OSF's Christoper Liam Moore and broadly funny performances from some of the festival's top comic actors.”