Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival: Get thee to a comedy
July 23, 2010
OK, I admit it. I attend the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival to stare at Sand Harbor.
I do love the theater. But Shakespeare at Sand Harbor, for me, is all about the experience: Sun setting on the water, a basket full of noshes, sipping wine in camping glasses with detachable stems. Plus, you get to wear flip flops.
This year, I missed the sunset. I was too busy watching the play.
The festival features “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged).”
Before it started, I noticed a bit of hullabaloo close to the stage. A man clad in a kayaking helmet, wet suit, Converse sneakers and perhaps two additional outfits was firing up a hibachi. An official-looking person reminded him of the rules. Then our rogue griller initiated a loud cell phone conversation. It was not the opening act, but a clever way of introducing the house rules.
Honestly, I could have watched the antics of kayak hibachi guy (actor Mark Anthony Taylor) the entire night.
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The production features three actors: Taylor, Lynn Robert Berg and Jeffrey Hawkins, who speed through the abridged works of Shakespeare, including a few sonnets. The approach is comedic, modern (with references to the “Twilight” series, Lady Gaga, Psycho and the infamous Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction) and creative, with some pretty ingenious ways of getting around the lack of Shakespeare’s usual ensemble casts.
My favorite part, aside from the intro, was when the audience dove into the id, ego and superego of Hamlet’s Ophelia. The high-pitched “Maybe, maybe not!” had us laughing all the way home.
The jokes can be crass, so it’s better to take the children to the D.G. Menchetti Young Shakespeare Program, featuring free performances of “The Tempest” through Aug. 2.