Today we shall dive headfirst into the “Merry Wives of Windsor” for the 12 Plays of Christmas…. why? Well, long story short, there are many places called Windsor, and many plays with Falstaff in them.
There are 2 plots within the play. The first involves Falstaff attempting to trick married women, saying that he loves them (in identical letters). The women are smart and compare notes, literally, and carry on the jest. Long story short, eventually they get their husbands in on the joke, and they have a massive fancy dress evening where Falstaff is to wear stag horns. He tries to get out of the situation by pretending to be asleep or dead- but they burn his fingers… and hilarity ensues.
The other plot is around a young woman called Anne. 2 women desire her to marry their sons… but she loves another. Long story short, eventually she runs off with the man she loves during the fancy dress party, and returns announcing the wedding. Her parents are in such a good mood because of all the jesting that they give her their blessing.
Yes, it is a very unlikely plot. I am not a massive fan of Falstaff personally, but he was so popular in Shakespeare’s day that he got this play written around his hi-jinks. Crazy.
As far as directing a 15 minute sequence, I would lean towards the time Falstaff is forced to dress as a fat woman and chased out of the house by one of the husbands, as that would allow all the farce you could muster. Or the final sequence with fairies and stag ears would allow a lot of theatricality easily through use of costumes, as well as an over the top happy ending.