The Merry Wives of Windsor


137 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-88794-132-X





Edited by Elliott Hayes and Michal Schonberg
Reviewed by Pauline Carey

Pauline Carey is an actor, playwright and librettist and author of the
children’s books Magic and What’s in a Name?


As a child I was taken to a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, with John Gielgud and Peggy Ashcroft in the cast, and was astonished to find that it was romantic and beautiful and fun. Shakespeare? Ever since that time, I have been firmly convinced that plays are to be seen and not read.

If one must read or, even worse, study Shakespeare, then books like this one probably come the closest to introducing a whiff of the live stage onto the printed page. It is a record of the 1982 Stratford Festival production of one of Shakespeare’s most confusing comedies. (Of course, it plays hilariously in the theatre.)

The text is clearly laid out as it was performed in that production, with footnotes on each page to elucidate difficult language, and is generally larded with vivid photographs by Robert Ragsdale and some lovely costume sketches by Susan Benson. There is an introduction by the director, Robert Beard, and an appendix that notes the emendations made to the text — generally for the sake of clarity. The design of the book, by Leslie Smart & Associates, is exceptionally pleasing to the eye.

This is the fifth in the Stratford Festival Edition series, published by the CBC and edited by literary managers of the Stratford Festival. Three more plays are now in preparation.



Shakespeare, William, “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024,