The Merry Wives of Windsor

How do you get fast cash if you are a nobleman and work is a four-letter word?  If you’re Sir John Falstaff, whose ego is as big as his BMI, the answer is obvious: seduce and then blackmail Alice Ford, a married woman. But Alice has an insanely jealous husband, Francis. His plan is to pose as a pool boy to catch his wife in an affair. Alice uses this opportunity to teach both Sir John and her husband a lesson. This comedy has lots of physical comedy and a liberal use of both a pool noodle and a Shakespearean Insult Generator. 

Running time: approximately 20 minutes

Cast size: 2 Males, 2 Females, and 1 M/F

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CHARACTERS

Sir John Falstaff (M) a very fat rogue with plans for blackmail

Francis Ford (M) a gentleman of Windsor and jealous husband of Mistress Alice Ford

Robin (M/F) Falstaff’s page

Mistress Alice Ford (F) the wife of Francis Ford

Mistress Margaret Page (F) close friend of Alice Ford

SAMPLE PAGES

SCENE 1: The inn where Falstaff resides 

(Lights us as Falstaff sits in idle splendor.)

FALSTAFF:  Robin!  Robin!  (ROBIN enters.)  I need breakfast!  Another round of ale! Put an egg in it.  And a beefsteak.  And liver and onions!  And Belgian waffles!  (Beat.)  And a not-too-large bowl of mush for yourself.

ROBIN:  I am sorry, Sir John, but no.

FALSTAFF:  What?  How dare you deny me?  Know your place, boy!

ROBIN:  The innkeeper says no more food until you pay what you owe.

FALSTAFF:  Ouch.  Oh well, just an ale then.

ROBIN:  Not until you pay your tab.

FALSTAFF:  This is an emergency!  I will not … (FALSTAFF tries to stand up.)  I will not … (FALSTAFF tries again to stand up then motions for ROBIN to help him.  Physical comedy as ROBIN helps him stand.)  I … will … not … stand for this!

ROBIN:  You will not stand, period.

FALSTAFF:  I need to get my hands on enough money to continue living in the style to which I am accustomed.  (Starts pacing.)  Let’s see.  Robin, lend me a thousand pounds.

ROBIN:  You haven’t paid me for three months.

FALSTAFF:  Then fetch me a thousand pounds.

ROBIN:  It doesn’t work that way.  You have to earn the money.

FALSTAFF:  Earn the money?  Filthy lucre?  Is that all anyone thinks about?  

ROBIN:  Yes, if they want to eat and drink.

FALSTAFF:  (Stops pacing, out of breath.)  Pacing while you think is stupid.  (Collapses into chair.)

Drat.  There must be some honorable way for me to get that money.  (Lowers head in thought.)

ROBIN:  You could work for the money.  

FALSTAFF:  (Glares at PAGE.)  I said “honorable.”

ROBIN:  Right.  What was I thinking?

FALSTAFF:  (Stands up suddenly with an idea.)  I’ve got it!  I’ll seduce two rich wives and then blackmail them.

ROBIN:  Right.  “Honorable.”

FALSTAFF:  Let me get two of my standard seduction letters (Pulls out two letters.), erase the old two names (Erases.), and put the names of … um.  Do you know any rich wives who are susceptible to seduction and extortion?

ROBIN:  I hear that the wives of Windsor are merry.

FALSTAFF:  Quite right.  I’ve heard that, too.  Take these seduct … love letters to, let’s see, to (Writes on one letter.) Mistress Alice Ford and the other to (Writes on second letter.) Mistress Margaret Page.  I met both of them at a rave last year.  (Looking reminiscent while he folds the letters and writes their names on the front.)  The flashing lights!  The mosh pit!  People scrabbling and tearing at each other.  It was incredible.  

ROBIN:  It was Black Friday.

FALSTAFF:  I don’t care what you call it; it was positively primeval.  (Hands letters to ROBIN.)  Be sure to stress to the women that it is I, Sir John Falstaff, who seduces—I mean, woos them.  They are bound to remember me.  I leave quite an impression.

ROBIN:  Yes.  You could leave an impression on sedimentary rock.

FALSTAFF:  What was that?

ROBIN:  I cannot deliver these letters, Sir John.  It is unethical.

FALSTAFF:  You are right, of course.  (Beat.)  I suppose we could boil your other shoe for supper tonight.

ROBIN:  Do you have their addresses?

FALSTAFF:  Right on the envelope.  Be swift, my page.  I’ve already missed breakfast.

ROBIN:  It’s past noon.

FALSTAFF:  Exactly.  Off with you now.  (PAGE exits.)  I’ve hatched a plot for blackmail, written two letters, and did a great deal of reminiscing, all before breakfast. (Sighs wearily.) Work, indeed. (Lowers his head and falls asleep.)

(Lights down.)

SCENE 5:  Inside the home of Alice and Francis Ford

FALSTAFF:  (Enters.)  Ladies?  It is I, Sir John Falstaff, come to woo you!

ALICE:  (Enters.)  Sir John.

FALSTAFF:  Mistress Alice.  I may call you, (In seductive voice.) “Mistress,” yes?

ALICE:  (Fans her face as she turns from FALSTAFF and shows a disgusted face to the audience.)  Oh, Sir John, you smooth talker.

FALSTAFF:  Where is (In seductive voice.) “Mistress” Margaret?  I was expecting both of you.

ALICE:  She’s –

MARGARET:  (Bursting in.)  Alice, your husband approaches!

FALSTAFF/ALICE:  What?

MARGARET:  He’s furious.  And he’s armed.

FALSTAFF:  With what?  A saber?  A pistol?

MARGARET:  A pool noodle.

ALICE:  (Beat.)  Sir John, you must escape before my husband kills you.

FALSTAFF:  With a pool noodle?

MARGARET:  A pool noodle … of death!

FALSTAFF:  (Screams.)  Get me out of here!  Where’s your back door?  A window!

ALICE:  You’d never fit through them.  We must disguise you.  We’ll say you are my maid’s aunt from Brentford.   You can wear my dress.  (MARGARET looks at FALSTAFF’s girth, then looks skeptically at ALICE.)  It was my maternity dress.  (MARGARET still looks skeptically at ALICE.)  I was in my ninth month.  (MARGARET still looks skeptically at ALICE.)  I was having quadruplets.  Come on!  (ALICE exits quickly with FALSTAFF.  Just as they exit, FRANCIS rushes in brandishing a pool noodle.)

FRANCIS:  Where is she?  Where is she?

MARGARET:  Where is who?

FRANCIS:  You know who.  My two-faced, two-timing, too devious wife.

MARGARET:  Francis, how can you speak of your beloved wife that way?

FRANCIS:  Oh, yes, I loved her … with all my heart.  Then she took my heart and offered it as a side dish to Falstaff, that, that …

MARGARET: Venomed tickle-brained measle?

FRANCIS:  Yes.  Wow, you’re good at this.

MARGARET:  It’s a gift.

FRANCIS:  Well, that venomed brickle-trained weasel –

MARGARET: Tickle-brained measle –

FRANCIS:  Is in my house right now having a tryst with my wife!

MARGARET:  You do your wife a grave injustice.

FRANCIS:  When I find Falstaff, I’ll do him a justice … the grave!

MARGARET:  Wow.  I did sound like you.

ALICE:  (Enters.)  Francis, what troubles you?  I can hear you yelling throughout the house.

FRANCIS:  Where is Falstaff?

ALICE:  If I had to guess, I would say the tavern, the gutter, or the dumpster behind Applebee’s.

FRANCIS:  You lie!

ALICE:  Francis!

FRANCIS:  I saw him come into this house!

ALICE:  I would only allow Sir John Falstaff into my home to beat some sense into him.  And then I would have you beat him for me, my dear.  

(FALSTAFF gasps off stage.) 

FRANCIS:  Aha, who made that noise, then?

ALICE:  Why, it is my maid’s aunt from Brentford.

FRANCIS:  Who?  That, that … (Points to MARGARET)

MARGARET:  Mammering, earth-vexing harpy?

FRANCIS:  (Points to MARGARET.)  Yes!  What she said.  You know I have forbade her from ever coming to my house again.

ALICE:  But dear, that was so long ago.

FRANCIS:  What she did was so … heinous, so monstrous.

MARGARET:  What did she do?

FRANCIS:  (Shuddering at the memory.)  I had a glass of ice-cold milk in my hands.  It was frothy and fresh.  Then I went to the cupboard and she, and she … (chokes back a sob.)  She ate the last package of Oreos.

MARGARET:  Really?  You could have just bought another package of Oreos.

FRANCIS:  I did!  I did!  But when I returned, she had, she had … (chokes back a sob.)  She had drunk all of the milk.  I will never forgive her for that.

FALSTAFF: (Enters dressed as a woman.)  Hello.  (Coughs and adjusts voice an octave higher.)  Hello.  It is so delightful having a girls’ day, doing girly things, with absolutely no men around at all.  (Pauses and really looks at FRANCIS for the first time. Says in his normal voice.)  What’s the pool boy doing in here?

FRANCIS:  Cleaning up the pool … the gene pool!  (Smacks FALSTAFF with the pool noodle.  He chases and smacks FALSTAFF throughout this monologue.)  Have at thee, thou chocolate cookie kleptomaniac.  Thou milk-mustachioed malefactor.  Thou black-toothed, black-tongued, black-hearted crummy canker blossom!  (Many blows follow this.)

ALICE:  Did you give my husband your Shakespearean Insult Generator?

MARGARET:  Nope.  He’s just a natural talent.

FALSTAFF:  Peace!  Peace!

FRANCIS:  Never! I shall beat some sense into you!

ALICE:  Exactly.

FRANCIS:  What do you mean by that?

FALSTAFF:  (Takes off headscarf.)  I am not the woman that you hate so.

FRANCIS:  Falstaff?

FALSTAFF:  The same.  (Beat.  FRANCIS starts smacking FALSTAFF with renewed vigor.)  

FRANCIS:  How dare you have a tryst with my wife?

ALICE:  What!

FRANCIS:  (Freezes as ALICE strides threateningly toward him.)  I mean –

ALICE:  You still think I’m being unfaithful to you?

FRANCIS:  I mean, he’s here.  In the house.  With you.

FALSTAFF:  I can see how you would assume that your wife would throw herself at me, but – 

(ALICE grabs the pool noodle and smacks FALSTAFF.  He falls over.  She looks at FRANCIS and gestures toward FALSTAFF as if to say, “Really?”)

FRANCIS:  But Alice, the way it looks –

ALICE:  (Smacks FRANCIS with the pool noodle.  She smacks FRANCIS throughout this monologue.)  You still don’t trust me, thou jealous, jabbering jackanapes?  Thou untrusting, uncouth, undeserving ninny.  Thou pig-headed, pig-brained pig!

MARGARET:  She’s a natural, too. …