The mischievous trio of Twelfth Night (Sir Toby Belch, Sir Andrew Aguecheek and Feste the fool) and their intended foil, the foppish Malvolio, provide the laughs and the substance of the comedy Shakespeare wrote as a Christmas-season denouement. Substance? Sir Toby loudly acting out his last name? Sir Andrew conking himself in the forehead during a reluctant sword fight? But these sight gags, crowned by the duped Malvolio prancing on the stage in cross-gartered yellow stockings, are all the substance that Twelfth Night requires. That's what makes it among the best, if not the best, of all Shakespearean comedies.
Never mind the “main story” of mistaken identity, courtly types looking for love and a brother and sister separated by a shipwreck.
The weeklong production, a joint effort by the Old Globe and the University of San Diego's Graduate Theatre Program directed by Richard Seer, gets it right. Adam Daveline's bellowing Sir Toby, Jesse Jensen's dreadlocked Feste the fool and Sean- Michael Wilkinson's cheeky Sir Andrew hold chaotic court in the Sheryl and Harvey White theater-in-the-round. Part Marx Brothers, part Monty Python, they quip and prattle and pratfall their way on the periphery of the more serious-minded characters.
All the scampering on and off the small stage ramps up the pace of the production, which still runs well over two hours. An updated setting places Shakespeare's games players in the British-governed India of the 1920s, and Michelle Hunt Souza's costumes— think saris and pith helmets—do the period justice.
A casting quibble: Jeremy Fisher's (Sebastian) significant height advantage over “twin” Allison Spratt Pearce's Viola makes it hard to believe their identities could be mistaken, even by the gullible Olivia (Deborah Radloff ). Love must be nearsighted, if not blind.
Twelfth Night runs through Nov. 13 at the Old Globe Theatre's Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre in Balboa Park. $8-$19.
David and Lisa: Pickwick Players presents the story of two mentally disturbed adolescents based on the novel by psychiatrist Theodore Isaac Rubin. Opens Nov. 11 at Moxie Theatre in Rolando. $15-$17. pickwickplayers.net
The Dybbuk and The Storm: The UCSD Department of Theatre and Dance presents two ambitious productions—The Dybbuk Nov. 10 and 12 at the Theodore and Adele Shank Theatre and The Storm Nov. 18 and 19 at the Sheila & Hughes Potiker Theatre. $10- $20. theatre.ucsd.edu
Jingle Bell Rock: The Alley Cats usher in the holidays with a cappella classics and comedy. Opens Nov. 10 at Welk Resorts Theatre in Escondido. $48-$73. welktheatersandiego.com
The King's Creampuffs: Students perform a comedy play about a king partial to creampuffs. Nov. 12 and 13 at Community Actors Theatre in the College Area. $7. communityactors theatre.com
Leato be Latina: Isis Saratial Misdary directs a dance-happy romantic comedy by Enrique Urueta. Previews begin Nov. 11 (opens Nov. 19) at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights. $20-$33. diversionary.org
The Sound of Music: How do you solve a problem like Maria? Easy—in this beloved musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Opens Nov. 11 at the Star Theatre in Oceanside. $7-$15. startheatre.biz
Standing On Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays: Diversionary Theatre and La Jolla Playhouse present a onenight-only benefit reading of works about the battle for marriage equality. Nov. 14 at Diversionary Theatre in University Heights. $20-$50. diversionary.org
You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown: The “Peanuts” characters come alive in the Broadway revival version of a musical by Clark Gesner based on Charles Schulz's gang. Preview Nov. 11, opens Nov. 12 at Scripps Ranch Theatre. $10- $25. scrippsranchtheatre.org
Come Fly Away: This new touring musical presented by Broadway San Diego merges the vocals of Frank Sinatra with the choreography of Twyla Tharp (“Movin' On”). Through Nov. 13 at Civic Theatre, Downtown. $17-$73.50. broadwaysd.com
The Glass Menagerie: Cygnet Theatre presents Tennessee Williams' dark and multilayered play about Amanda Wingfield, her son, her daughter and a gentleman caller. Through Nov. 13 at Old Town Theatre. $24-$49. cygnettheatre.com
Twelfth Night: Shakespeare's comedy of mischief and mistaken identity is presented in a joint production by the Old Globe Theatre and the University of San Diego Graduate Theater Program. Through Nov. 13 at Sheryl & Harvey White Theatre in Balboa Park. $8-$19. oldglobe.org
Heroes: Tom Stoppard's adaptation of French playwright Gerald Sibleyras' comedy about three World War I veterans reminiscing and reflecting on their lives. Through Nov. 20 at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach. $32-$49. northcoastrep.org
Of Mice and Men: Daren Scott directs this stage adaptation of John Steinbeck's 1937 novel about George, Lennie and the California of the '30s. Through Nov. 20 at New Village Arts Theatre in Carlsbad. $22-$38. newvillagearts.org
Prairie Lights: A Jewish brother and sister journey west on an orphan train in 1905 in this holiday musical. Through Nov. 20 at Patio Playhouse in Escondido. $7-$10. patioplayhouse.com
The Servant of Two Masters: Former Lamb's Players Theatre staff member David McFadzean (who went on to create Home Improvement) returns to Coronado with a new Italian-flavored musical comedy. Through Nov. 20 at Lamb's Players Theatre in Coronado. $14-$60. lambsplayers.org
Gypsy: A Musical Fable: Ion Theatre presents the classic musical by Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim and Arthur Laurents. Through Nov. 27 at BLK BOX @ 6th & Penn in Hillcrest. $10-$34. iontheatre.com
The Diary of Anne Frank: Wendy Kesselman's adaptation of the story of a courageous girl in hiding during the horror of World War II. Through Dec. 4 at OnStage Playhouse in Chula Vista. $14-$16. onstageplayhouse.org
The Drowsy Chaperone: This show-within-a-show salute to the Jazz Age won the Tony for best musical in 2006. Through Dec. 4 at Coronado Playhouse. $20-$25. coronadoplayhouse.com
The Great American Trailer Park Musical: What do spray cheese, road kill, strippers and disco have in common? They're all part of this story of mobile-home denizens Norbert and Jeannie. Through Dec. 4 at San Diego Repertory Theatre, Downtown. $33-$57. sdrep.org
Shotgun Wedding Anniversary: How else can a miserable 25-year marriage end but in murder? Presented by Mystery Cafe, it's ongoing at Imperial House restaurant in Bankers Hill. $59.50, including dinner. mysterycafe.net