No summer is really complete without concerts in the park and Shakespeare in the Park, and as we begin to look toward fall, the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival is here to make sure audiences have a chance to enjoy the latter of those summertime entertainment essentials.
In fact, the company is marking the 40th anniversary of its free outdoor Shakespeare performances with a production of the Bard's "Much Ado About Nothing," which runs Saturday and Sunday afternoons Aug. 14-28 at Red Morton Park in Redwood City, with a preview Aug. 13.
"Much Ado About Nothing" is a play that the company has staged three times previously, about once a decade, according to the festival's website. The play features one of Shakespeare's most memorable couples, as well as a problematic view of feminine purity that lingers in society to this day.
There appears, initially, to be no love lost between Benedick and Beatrice, whose entertaining verbal sparring fails to conceal their growing mutual affection — and fools no one but themselves. But their budding romance is put to the test when the villainous Don John calls into question the virtue of Beatrice's young cousin, Hero.
The production, directed by Shannon R. Davis, moves the setting close to home and to a time period not all that long ago.
"We set the play in alternate-timeline San Francisco where the early 90’s and mid 2000’s have blended together, reminding us this isn’t quite today or accessible, but familiar," Davis said in the program notes.
"Much Ado About Nothing" runs Aug. 14-28, 4 p.m., with an Aug. 13 preview at Red Morton Park, Valota and Vera avenues, Redwood City. Admission is free. For more information, visit sfshakes.org.