Well, I've decided that it's high time to pay high tribute to our dear friend Jack Falstaff, and his contemporary, earthly incarnation: David Warburton.
For the past two years, SIR and (in my humble opinion) the City of Winnipeg have been given an incredible gift: the opportunity to witness (in the opinion of many less humble than myself) Shakespeare's finest creation in the living flesh, inhabited by an actor for whom the role might have been written (all things Shakespearean existing, after all, on a cosmic plane indifferent to the restrictions of time and space).
I had the incredible good fortune of directing David in last year's The Merry Wives of Windsor, and the moment at which I was assured that he would, indeed, like to be my Falstaff, I knew that my relatively inexperienced ass had for the most part been covered.
It's not so much that David is Falstaff, though they share a great many traits (and when, on the battlefield, Falstaff demands "Give me life!", it's David that I hear). It seems to me that the role of fat Jack has been specifically tailored by Shakespeare to suit David's strengths and depth as an actor: a keenly intelligent sense of mischief, a vernacular of poetically bombastic aggression fueled by a genuinely tragic insecurity – a fear of growing old and dying. To see him tackling this role (which in our case incorporates Falstaff's greatest moments from both parts of Henry IV) is to witness a date with destiny. David's work is so fine that, when I watch him, I actually forget Orson Welles in Chimes At Midnight (which, if you've seen it, you will recognize is a feat).
It could easily be another fifty years before Winnipeg audiences have another opportunity to see the great Sir John Falstaff on stage, and it's unlikely ever to be performed as adroitly, as thoroughly, as deeply, and (you should pardon the expression) as ROUNDLY again.
DON'T MISS IT.