Oh, this is a serious matter! Is there no virtue extant? Does virtue have no friends? Something wicked this way comes. The Falstaff wars have come to the Lincoln Center, according to this New York Times report. Does Harold Bloom love Falstaff even more than Shakespeare loved him? The director, Jack O’Brien, thinks that Bloom is way off base in his affection for this guy who lards the lean earth as he walks along. Is this Falstaff a trunk of humours, that huge bambard of sack, that reverend vice, that grey iniquity, or is he the cause of that wit is in other men? Did he go to hell, or to Arthur’s bosom, if ever man went to Arthur’s bosom? Is he Samuel Johnson’s "fat knight" who "has never uttered one sentiment of generosity...and has nothing in him that can be esteemed." Or, is he, as Harold Bloom claims, one who exhibits a "comprehensiveness of consciousness that puts him beyond us?" Is he the "Immortal Falstaff?"
If the world were just, and I were rich and full of leisure I would re-read both parts Henry IV, and be able to fly to New York and see this just-under-four-hour compressed production of both parts into a single play. No doubt I would criticize and hoot and holler over the liberties of the director, yet, I bet I would enjoy Kevin Kline’s rendition of plump Jack, even if I ended banishing the production. The time is out of joint.