¶ “The Merry Wives of Windsor” is also known as “that other Falstaff” play. The rumor goes that Queen Elizabeth, having been moved by William Shakespeare’s revisions of several older plays into a coherent teratology we call the Henriad, requested Falstaffe be written into another play. But he was already dead by the start of “Henry V,” so now what? “Merry Wives” conscripts the genre of angry women plays to provide a simultanequel: a simultaneous universe where Falstaffe doesn’t die, and instead enjoys his knighthood in the rolling countryside of Windsor. This composition context of “Merry Wives” makes it a perfect play to talk about your brain on repertory.
¶ For the next three weekends, the Original Practice Shakespeare Festival (a.k.a. OPS Fest or OPSF) will be holding their WIL Festival. The aim is to perform all 15 Shakespeare plays they have in their repertoire—they add two each year—over successive weekends. Aside from the opportunity to get speedy exposure to half of William Shakespeare’s oeuvre, this is also as close as you might get to seeing the plays in the system for which they were designed: in repertory.