Big Willie Style

Othello(June 23-Aug.
12); The Merry Wives of Windsor(June 16-Aug. 13). Talk about a scintillating double bill courtesy of this roving band of theatrical gypsies! The high comedy and ribald sexuality of my favorite Shakespearean comedy, Othello, in which the most innocent of lovely throats is strangled by the jealous paw of an inky Moor, and the soul-stirring drama of Merry Wives, in which a corpulent, garrulous fellow attempts the rapid-fire seduction of a legion of married women. Aye, verily, this is Shakespeare's yin and yang. Locations throughout Southern California.

TheTempest(June 25-July 17); HenryV(July 23-Aug. 14). This Shakespearean love fest is staged outdoors, by the water, on a two-level Elizabethan stage, and is graced with live music and, the website says, "lots of spectacle." Bravo! Spectacle is what we crave most in our Shakespeare because, really, who understands all those windy speeches, anyway? The Aquarium of the Pacific, 100 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, (562) 997-1494.

AMidsummerNight'sDream(July 7-23); MeasureforMeasure(Aug. 4-20). Sir Thomas F. Bradac, artistic director of Shakespeare OC, knows as much about the Bard—the supreme architect of the English language, the human soul, and the free-enterprise system—as anyone in the land. These two classic comedies will surely receive fine productions true to the text, ensuring the endless delight of those of us who indulge in hearty guffaws, unbridled chortles and blown snot from our proboscises. Festival Amphitheatre, Grove Theater Center, Garden Grove, (714) 744-7016.

AsYouLikeIt(July 21-25). While it hasn't earned a firm place in my pantheon of the Bard's great comedies, this tale of love and power set in the forest of Arden never fails to inspire or edify. This production is set in the Old West, which makes perfect sense, as it's staged in a park a mere calf-roping demonstration away from the Pacific. Adding to the enchanting allure of sea breeze and sea salt is the admission: one food of a canned variety, which will afford those of us wealthy enough to possess such a trove in our larder to pass on our sumptuous delicacies to those less fortunate. I am sacrificing my favorite can of potted meat product, the first two ingredients of which are mechanically separated chicken and partially defatted beef fatty tissue. Heritage Park, Dana Point, (949) 291-5083.

Hamlet,TheArtistFormerlyKnownasPrinceofDenmark(July 15-23). While familiar with this troupe's popularity among the stinking masses, I, for one, am invariably repulsed by its obnoxious efforts to besmirch the Bard's good name by sabotaging his soaring, lofty poetics with pop music created by such gutter racers as Prince. Why is the populace not outraged at this effrontery? Summon the guards! Sound the alarums! Demand an end to this pitiless storm! Yes, yes, I understand two of their "productions" have won the highly coveted Best Musical award from this august publication. But do you know who presents those awards? The "man" is a rascally sheep-biter, a tickle-brained, whey-faced jackanapes who hears nothing but the envious barking of his own saucy tongue. Fuck him! Muckenthaler Cultural Center, 1201 W. Malvern Ave., Fullerton, (310) 979-7196.

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