Falstaff - The Bad Man We All Need



Before the broadcast of Elgar's 'Falstaff' Paul Allen, who is writing a book about the character, reflects on the fascination of composers and writers with this larger than life figure.One of the first composers to use Falstaff as a subject was the much-maligned Salieri.

Nicolai, Verdi, Vaughan Williams and Elgar followed.

What makes a character who's not even the official protagonist of two of the three plays he's in so irresistible? Paul Allen finds the answer in two contemporary plays where Falstaff reappears under a different name and in different circumstances: Alan Bennett's 'The History Boys' and Jez Butterworth's 'Jerusalem'.

In this illustrated talk he argues that Falstaff, perhaps Shakespeare's greatest invention, is the bad man we all need in order to grow up, to be - in the broadest sense of the word - educated.

But there is a price to be paid for this attachment to the young.

Falstaff must always die.

prod: Julian May.

Paul Allen on the fascination of composers and writers with the figure of Falstaff.