The Old Globe's The Two Gentlemen of Verona, capping off its 2014 Summer Shakespeare Festival, is a triumph of al fresco fun. The production, directed by Mark Lamos on the open-air Lowell Davies Festival stage, is a 95-minute-long (with no intermission) joyride that never lags. Measured against the Globe's earlier summer Shakespeare offering, Othello, it's pure fluff, of course. But you'd have to be a complete curmudgeon not to enjoy this beguiling comedy.
It's got it all: bright, meticulous Renaissance costumes by Linda Cho; John Arnone's elevated scenery, modeled after oil paintings and frescoes from the Italian Renaissance period; and a spirited cast that's having as good a time as the audience. There's even a crowd-pleasing (and very capably performing) dog that gets well-deserved stage time—a Labrador / German shorthaired pointer mix who plays Crab with soulful eyes and wagging tail.
Adam Kantor and Hubert Point-Du Jour are Proteus and Valentine, the two gentlemen—and best friends—around whom Shakespeare's romp about love, betrayal and forgiveness revolves. Kantor has the more expressive role, as the fickle and scheming Proteus, though he's upstaged when paired with the gifted comedienne Kristin Villanueva, playing Julia, Proteus' supposed true love. I say "supposed" because he instantly falls in love at the sight of Valentine's heartthrob, the stunning and dignified Silvia (Britney Coleman). Some may wonder why Valentine, noble that he is, would so easily forgive his unfaithful pal Proteus by story's end, but he is, remember, a gentleman, with all the decorum that connotes. Besides, it's a comedy, so lighten up.
In between the courtships and romantic wooing are the droll musings of Proteus' servant, Launce (Richard Ruiz), who's accompanied by the aforementioned canine, Crab, and often by Valentine's wacky servant, Speed (Rusty Ross). As if all that isn't enough, when Valentine is banished midway through the action by Silvia's father, the Duke (Mark Pinter), he's recruited by a band of Robin Hood-like outlaws wielding bows and arrows. Throw in some original music (by Fitz Patton) and the requisite festive dancing and you've got summertime Shakespeare as charming as it can be.
The Two Gentlemen of Verona runs through Sept. 14 in the Lowell Davies Festival Theatre at The Old Globe in Balboa Park. $29 and up. oldglobe.org
A Boy and a Girl: A new musical comedy that checks in on the relationship between a boy and a girl, natch, at ages 1, 4, 10, 18 and adulthood. Runs Aug. 28 through 31 at the Broadway Theatre in Vista. broadwayvista.com
La Victima: A staged reading of a play that explores and critiques U.S. immigration policy by following one Mexican family from the 1930s through the 70s. Presented by C.A.R.P.A. San Diego, it happens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 29, at the Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park. centroculturaldelaraza.com
My Fair Lady: On a bet, a professor endeavors to transform an unrefined girl into a lady, and it later occurs to him that hes smitten with her. Presented by Moonlight Stage Productions, it runs through Aug. 30 at the Moonlight Amphitheatre in Vista. moonlightstage.com
A Midsummer Nights Dream: A Greek forest is alive with fairies, magic potions and the pursuit of love in one of William Shakespeares best-known comedies. Presented by Pickwick Players, it runs through Aug. 31 at Off Broadway Live in Santee. pickwickplayers.net
Pageant: Each shows audience picks a winner from six contestants in a beauty-and-talent competition in this musical comedy. Presented by Cygnet Theatre, it runs through Aug. 31 at The Old Town Theatre. cygnettheatre.com
The Full Monty: The stage version of the 1997 British film has six unemployed Buffalo steelworkers putting on a strip show to raise money—and their spirits. Through Sept. 7 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. newvillagearts.org
Les Miserables: In this classic musical, a poor Frenchman spends 19 years in prison after stealing a loaf of bread, only to escape and get caught up in a revolution under an assumed identity. Through Sept. 28 at Lambs Players Theatre in Coronado. lambsplayers.org
God of Carnage: When two boys get into a fight, their parents get together to calmly discuss what to do about it, but the discussion ends up being anything but calm. Through Sept. 13 at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista. onstageplayhouse.org
The Two Gentlemen of Verona: Two friends leave Verona for Milan, where, natch, they get caught up in a love—er, rectangle? Through Sept. 14 at The Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park. oldglobe.org
Dearly Beloved: A trio of Texas sisters plan a wedding. Will it be Antebellum-themed? Will it be a big ol barbecue? Will it go off at all? Through Sept. 21 at Coronado Playhouse. coronadoplayhouse.com
Regrets Only: A knee-slapping comedy about a gay fashion designer who challenges a straight acquaintance who happens to be advising President Bush on the ban on gay marriage. Through Sept. 21 at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights. diversionary.org
Crime Pays: A radio game show with dastardly overtones, served up with dinner, is presented by Mystery Cafe at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill. mysterycafe.net