.Bard al Fresco

Two picnic-worthy productions

‘Tis the season for Shakespeare
al fresco, so pack a picnic, grab a blanket and check out these North Bay productions.

The Marin Shakespeare Company closes out its season under the stars with Pericles, a play whose authorship has fostered many a debate. Plot points include incest, assassination, famine, a shipwreck, marriage, maternal death, familial separation, attempted murder, kidnapping, pirates, prostitution and a seemingly dead person rising from a watery grave. Who knew Shakespeare wrote a zombie play? And this is a comedy.

Director Lesley Currier and her design team have taken all these elements, dressed them up in modern garb, added a few topical references and come up with the theatrical equivalent of a B-movie. It’s entertaining and even moving at the end, but it evaporates quickly in the night air.

Artist-in-residence Dameion Brown brings his commanding stage presence to the title role. Fine supporting work is done by Cathleen Riddley as the loving Queen Simonedes and the treacherous Dionyza; Eliza Boivin as Marina, Pericles’ daughter; Rod Gnapp and Richard Pallaziol in a variety of roles; and Diane Wasnak, who is very engaging as the puckish storyteller Gower.

Rating (out of 5): ★★★½

Santa Rosa’s Shakespeare in the Cannery ceases to exist after this season’s production, as the property is being “repurposed.” Co-founder and director David Lear decided to go out on a lighter note, so they’re presenting Shakespeare in Love, the stage adaptation of 1998’s Best Picture Oscar winner.

Poor Will Shakespeare (John Browning) has writer’s block and can’t seem to finish his latest opus, Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter. A muse arrives in the person of Viola (Sidney McNulty), who disguises herself as “Thomas Kent” so as to get around the “no women onstage” rule. Shifty theater producers, a loathsome lord, a treacherous boy and a haughty queen all come into play before Romeo and Juliet sees the light of day.

It’s a piffle, but the cast has fun, with good comedic support from Alan Kaplan and Liz Jahren. Isiah Carter impresses in two roles and keep an eye out for Isabella, one of the moodiest, scene-stealing “bitch” characters I’ve seen on a North Bay stage. ★★★½


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