Two Gentlemen of Verona
Free Shakespeare in the Park
Directed by Kenneth Kelleher
David Abad (Antonio, Thurio, Outlaw)
Sofia Ahmad (Julia)
Brian Herndon (Launce, Outlaw)
Emily Jordan (Silvia, Panthene)
Gary S. Martinez (Duke, Host)
Alex Moggridge (Proteus)
Michael Navarra (Valentine, Eglamour)
Katie O'Bryon (Lucetta, Outlaw)
Jeremy Vik (Speed, Outlaw)
Monday, Sept 6 - 2:30 PM
The Presidio's Main Post
Parade Ground Lawn
People must really make a day of this, because when I got to the Presidio Parade Ground at 2:15pm, the lawn was pretty much full of picnickers who looked like they had been there for quite a while already. The sunny weather made this an ideal day for this outdoor show from the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, & we got a leisurely, straightforward performance of the Two Gentlemen of Verona. Before each scene, an actor announced the setting & the characters. It was like getting on-stage CliffNotes. The costumes & music evoked the mod 1960's. Between scenes the actors lip-synched & danced to a playlist of music of that era, which held up the action. Following this logic, this also meant that we got a version of "Who is Silvia?" with words by Steve Winwood instead of Shakespeare.
Because of the outdoor setting, the actors are heavily miked, & it took me a while to get used to searching the stage for each speaker. Brian Herndon channeled Richard Dreyfuss for his portrayal of the clown Launce. His dog Crab was played by a life-sized stuffed dog on a leash. Most everyone sounded American, except when adopting comic accents, so I was initially both confused & impressed by Silvia's convincing British accent, until I read actress Emily Jordan's bio & learned that she actually comes from Britain. But I still do not know why the cast consistently pronounced "Milan" with the stress on the 1st syllable.
Though the atmosphere was laid-back, the audience was fully engaged in the story. There was spontaneous applause when Valentine beats up the badly behaving Proteus & when the Duke finally bestows Silvia on good-guy Valentine. Sofia Ahmad made me feel the pathos of Julia's plight when disguised as a boy. The reconciliation at the end, demanded by the plot, is hasty, so it seemed right that in the closing moments of the production Julia flinched at Proteus's embrace. Sometimes it's just plain lousy to be in love.