News: Full cast announced for the RSC’s The Merry Wives of Windsor

Full casting is announced for the RSC’s forthcoming production of Shakespeare’s suburban comedy, The Merry Wives of Windsor.  Directed by Blanche McIntyre, the show runs in repertoire in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon between 5 June – 7 September. 

Making their RSC debuts as the eponymous ‘Merry Wives’ are the previously announced double Olivier Award-winner Samantha Spiro (Sex Education/ Ridley Road) as Mistress Meg Page, who is joined by Siubhan Harrison (The Ocean at the End of the Lane) as Mistress Alice Ford.  John Hodgkinson (Dear England, RSC’s A Christmas Carol) plays Sir John Falstaff, and Richard Goulding (Scoop, The Windsors, King Charles III) plays Frank Ford.

Blanche McIntyre, director, said: “The Merry Wives of Windsor is one of Shakespeare’s most underrated plays. Its mixture of comedy and vulnerability foreshadows great writers such as Alan Ayckbourn, and its farcical set pieces are the forerunners of classic sitcom. I’m setting the play in a contemporary small town, as I think its gossipy lack of privacy, its suburban values and its overheated town politics are timeless. I’ve wanted to direct The Merry Wives of Windsor for a long time, and I am delighted to be working on it with the sensational company we’ve assembled.” 

Samantha Spiro’s TV and film credits include One LifeHoardStill UpSex EducationRidley Road, RagdollSemi-DetachedBabsTracey Ullman’s ShowDoctor WhoGame of ThronesPlebsLondon SpyGrandpa’s HousePsychobitches and Me Before You.

A recipient of two Olivier Awards and a award, her theatre credits include: Guys and DollsLady Windermere’s FanDi, Viv and Rose; and A Christmas Carol (West End); Macbeth and The Taming of the Shrew (Shakespeare’s Globe); Chicken Soup with Barley (Royal Court, nominated for Best Actress at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards and Awards); Hello Dolly! (Regents Park Open Air Theatre, winner of the Best Actress in a Musical at the Olivier Awards); Merrily We Roll Along (Donmar Warehouse, winner of Best Actress in a Musical at the Olivier Awards and Awards), Two Thousand Years and Cleo, Camping, Emmanuelle and Dick at the Royal National Theatre; and The House They Grew Up In and Funny Girl at Chichester.

Siubhan Harrison’s theatre credits include: Wildfire Road (Sheffield Crucible);The Ocean at the End of the Lane (National Theatre Productions at the Duke of York’s Theatre); Wonderful Town (Opera Holland Park);Home I’m Darling (Duke of York’s Theatre for National Theatre Productions);Me and My Girl (Chichester);The Country Wife, Working (Southwark Playhouse); I Call My Brothers (Arcola); Guys and Dolls (Savoy);Pitcairn (Globe);From Here to Eternity (Shaftesbury Theatre); Earthquakes in London (UK tour); Margueritte (Haymarket); Marianne Dreams (Almeida); andLes Miserables (Queens). TV and film credits include:  The Great Escaper, Fifteen Love, The Song of Lunch andLittle Deaths.

John Hodgkinson was most recently seen in Dear England (National Theatre/Prince Edward Theatre).  His previous work for the RSC includes: Venice Preserved, The Provoked Wife, Twelfth Night, A Christmas Carol, Love’s Labour’s Lost and Much Ado About Nothing.  Othertheatre credits include:  Best of Enemies (Young Vic Theatre/Noel Coward Theatre); Hangmen (Royal Court/ Wyndham’s/Golden Theatre New York); The Ferryman (Royal Court/Gielgud); The Libertine (Glasgow Citizens); and A Walk On Part (Live Theatre/Soho Theatre/Arts Theatre). Television and film credits include:  Life After Life, Small Axe, Catherine The Great, Rillington Place, Victoria, Witless, Todd Margaret, The Escape Artist, Whitechapel, Big Bad World, Criminal Justice, Peep Show, Heart of Lightness, Skyfall, Leave to Remain, Thunderpants and Firelight.

Richard Goulding’s previous RSC credits include: The Seagull, King Lear, A Mad World My Masters, Titus Andronicus and Candide. Other theatre credits include: Scandaltown (Lyric Hammersmith); A Passage to India (Simple 8/Royal and Derngate); St George and the Dragon, Edgar and Annabel, There Is A War (National Theatre); King Lear, They Drink It In The Congo (Almeida Theatre); King Charles III (Almeida Theatre, Wyndham’s Theatre and Music Box Theatre, New York, nominated for Olivier and Tony award for Best Supporting Actor); and Posh (Royal Court/Duke of York’s).  His TV and film credits include: The WindsorsGrantchester, Dalgliesh, A Very British Scandal, The Crown, Belgravia, Traitors, Brexit: The Uncivil War, King Charles III, Fresh Meat, Ripper Street, Foyle’s War, Scoop, Wicked Little Letters, Benediction, The Iron Lady and King Lear.

The full cast comprises Jessica Alade (Simple), Omar Bynon (Pistol), John Dougall (Shallow), Riess Fennell (Robert/Student), Richard Goulding (Frank Ford), Siubhan Harrison (Alice Ford), John Hodgkinson (Sir John Falstaff), Emily Houghton (Host of the Garter), Ian Hughes (Sir Hugh Evans),  Wil Johnson (George Page), Yasemin Junqueira (Student), John Leader (Fenton), David Mara (Rugby), Tadeo Martinez (Robin), Shazia Nicholls (Mistress Quickly), Yasemin Özdemir (Nym), David Partridge (Bardolph/John), Samantha Spiro (Meg Page), Jason Thorpe (Dr Caius), Tara Tijani (Anne Page) and Patrick Walshe McBride (Slender).

Blanche McIntyre’s previous RSC directing credits include All’s Well That Ends Well (2022), Titus Andronicus (2017) and The Two Noble Kinsmen (2016).  Other credits include Arabian Nights (Bristol Old Vic), Super High Resolution (Soho Theatre), House of Shades (Almeida) and Measure for Measure (Sam Wanamaker Playhouse).

Joining Blanche on the creative team are Robert Innes Hopkins (Set and Costume Designer), Malcolm Rippeth (Lighting Designer), Tim Sutton (Composer), Emma Laxton (Sound Designer), Ingrid Mackinnon (Movement Director), Philip d’Orleans (Fight Director) and Matthew Dewsbury CDG (Casting Director).

The Merry Wives of Windsor (5 June – 7 September) plays in repertoire with The School for Scandal (2 July – 6 September), with some of the cast appearing in both shows.  Casting for The School for Scandal will be announced shortly.

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