Written & directed by Simon Downing
Kick In The Head follow up recent successes with Old Herbaceous, Fagin?, Three Men in a Boat and Choice Grenfell with a new play about Sir John Falstaff…a rogue, a philanderer and a glutton, but also one of Shakespeare’s greatest and enduring comic creations.
In this new play by Simon Downing we find Falstaff, played by Giles Shenton (Old Herbaceous, Three Men in a Boat) in his bedroom in the Boars Head being nursed by Mistress Quickly played by Suzanna Walters (Choice Grenfell).
The creditors arrive demanding payment. Will Falstaff resort to marrying Mistress Quickly in order to pay off his debts? Will he turn teetotal? Will he mellow in his old age? Find out the answers to all these important questions that Shakespeare never bothered to answer and join Falstaff for an evening of jollity, frivolity, a definite lack of coequality and more Shakespearean insults than ever previously heard on a theatrical stage!
Falstaff - Giles Shenton
Mistress Quickly - Suzanna Walters
Future dates (click on the link below each date to book tickets)
23 May 2020 Glastonbury Abbey, Glastonbury, Somerset
11 June 2020 Cryer Arts Centre, Carshalton, Surrey ***POSTPONED - NEW DATE TBA***
18 June 2020 Middlesbrough Theatre, Middlesbrough, N Yorks ***POSTPONED - NEW DATE TBA***
2 July 2020 Moorland Garden Hotel, Yelverton, Devon (OA)
3 July 2020 Cotswold Playhouse, Stroud, Glos
4 July 2020 Miserden Estate, Gloucestershire (OA)
15 July 2020 Torch Theatre, Milford Haven, Wales
17 July 2020 Caerau Gardens, Bala, N Wales (OA)
26 July 2020 Sussex Prairie Gardens, Henfield, West Sussex (OA)
1 Aug 2020 RHS Harlow Carr, Harrogate, Yorks (OA)
7 Aug 2020 Avon Mill, Kingsbridge, Devon
8 Aug 2020 Avon Mill, Kingsbridge, Devon
9 Aug 2020 Burrow Farm Gardens, nr Axminster, Devon (OA)
15 Aug 2020 Trebah Gardens Amphitheatre, Cornwall (OA)
22 Aug 2020 Leith Hill Place, Dorking, Surrey (OA)
30 Aug 2020 Wield & Downland Open Air Museum, Sussex (OA)
23 Sept 2020 Brighton Open Air Theatre, East Sussex (OA)
24 Sept 2020 Brixham Theatre, Brixham, Devon
15 Oct 2020 Manor Pavilion Theatre, Sidmouth, Devon
16 Oct 2020 Cygnet Theatre, Exeter, Devon
(OA) = Open Air Performance
21 Feb 2020 Phoenix Theatre, Bordon, Hants
22 Feb 2020 Phoenix Theatre, Bordon, Hants
25 Feb 2020 South Hill Park Arts Centre, Bracknell, Berks **SOLD OUT**
1 Mar 2020 Vera Fletcher Hall, Thames Ditton, Surrey
Vera Fletcher Review
In 1968, Britain did away with theatre censorship, after 231 years of the Lord Chamberlain retaining the absolute power to censor any play wishing to be licensed for public performance. Kick in the Head‘s latest offering, "Much Ado About Falstaff“ might never have graced any stage, had this not happened, though Shakespeare’s own works pre-dated any such censorship. Though, in truth, the very descriptive and rather flowery insults hurled back and forth across the stage between the eponymous ( Sir John) Falstaff and Mistress ( Nell) Quickly do not tend to offend a modern audience as much as they might an Elizabethan one. Indeed, the very language used is, to a modern ear, very amusing in itself...though some of the action onstage might offend us today...how humour shifts between eras and generations!
We first meet Falstaff in Shakespeare‘s two Henry IV plays, portrayed as the grizzled fighter , womaniser, drunkard and rogue, leading the young Prince Hal ( later that heroic Henry V ) astray. We then see him again in Henry V, cast adrift by his erstwhile companion and, perhaps to us, strange bedfellow, Prince Hal, now King Henry V; then lastly In the Wives of Windsor, we meet him again, once more with Mistress Quickly, who also appears in all 4 plays...some back story!
In Simon Downing‘s clever and agile sequel, we meet the ‚ Fond‘ couple again, in declining years, lodging at Falstaff‘s old haunt, ´the Boar‘s Headˋ, off Cheapside. Set in Sir John‘s wooden panelled chamber, the play opens with the cries of the hawkers and the sounds of the surging crowds rising from that busy street, below. Falstaff, true to,his old profligate self, has run up yet more debts and chickens are coming home to roost, in the form of many creditors calling up from the street and pounding on the door...True to form, Falstaff dictates the insults he would hurl at his creditors to Mistress Quickly, who is obliged to shout them through the open window, to the street below...such terms as ´you great barrel of lardˋ, ´you fat choughˋ are bandied about. Mistress Quickly, naturally, is soon fed up with being used in this way and gets very free with her slapstick, to indicate the gravity of her feelings. Many of Shakespeare‘s own insults are re-employed, including many sexual innuendos.
Despite the somewhat ´Punch and Judy‘ character of the relationship and, through our 21st century gaze, there is no equality in this relationship...yet, there is much pathos and not a little tenderness underlying it...doubtless why it lasted so long. Mistress Quickly herself is no stranger to criminal activity in the past, indeed, she might even be´aiding and abettingˋ now. Her pretensions to gentility, through marrying Sir John, are liberally sprinkled with vulgar malapropisms, with word play such as ´fecund cherry/ fuckund cherryˋ; ´first the thrust, now the parryˋ , with the actors leaving nothing to the imagination. His long hesitation in marrying her results in her dictating the marriage vows to him!
Shakespeare left us´ hangingˋ with the fate of so many of his characters. Will Kick in the Head resolve many of the unanswered questions...will Mistress Quickly go on covering for Falstaff? Will he elude his creditors and avoid ruin? Will Sir John see the error of his ways, turn teetotal and marry Mistress Quickly, thus giving her the respectability she desires and will they live happily ever after?
Giles Shenton totally inhabits the character of this brazen, yet weak charlatan, down to his most obnoxious personal habits. Suzanna Walters is the perfect sly, yet bold, despairingly emotional, yet roaring, faded beauty who once captured the roistering knight.
The set is perfection in it’s simplicity, telling a story from the very first glance.
Be prepared to roar with laughter...and be moved to empathetic tears...and identify so much of the Bard you might have forgotten you knew!
Touring the UK now, don‘t miss it!
Much Ado About Falstaff promotional video