This afternoon I took myself to see The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica. It was a touring production from London's Shakespeare's Globe, which is a historically accurate recreation that sits more or less directly on the site of the original (c. 1600) Globe Theatre, and which not only mounts productions of Shakespeare's plays, but hosts ongoing exhibits and educational activities designed to teach people about his life, work, world and times.
With these credentials, I was expecting it to be about as close to the real thing as you can get, and I wasn't disappointed. I've seen several productions of Shakespeare over the years, including one of Merry Wives, and this was the best I've ever attended -- I think the humor in the plays often gets missed or muted, maybe because the language can be hard to follow, but this one was really laugh-out-loud funny. I especially liked Mistresses Page and Ford, who were thoroughly convincing as both conspirators and friends, and also Mistress Ford's insanely, hilariously jealous husband, but really everyone was excellent, from the fresh-faced young lovers to randy, gluttonous old Falstaff. I also loved the clever revolving set and the live music, which appeared to feature real shawms and sackbuts. It was worth every penny I spent on my ticket (I paid a little extra and ended up sitting smack in the front row, close enough to reach out and touch the stage) and I only wish it were in town for another week so I could go back with G.