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June 02, 2004

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Publication Date: Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Menlo Players Guild offers free Shakespeare festival under stars Menlo Players Guild offers free Shakespeare festival under stars (June 02, 2004)

By Bryan Wiggin
Almanac Theater Critic

For the sixth consecutive year, the Menlo Players Guild is offering Shakespeare under the stars.

The Mid-Peninsula Shakespeare Festival will present two comedies by the Bard, and an original work that draws its inspiration from the mists of legend.

"Twelfth Night" was written when Shakespeare was about 26. It opens with the famous line, "If music be the food of love, play on." And love does play on, as it usually does in Shakespeare's comedies. Some of the better-known characters are Sir Toby Belch, Sir Andrew Aguecheek, and the twitted Malvolio. Olivia and Viola are the prominent women in the play. Performances will be on Saturday and Sunday, June 5 and 6; Sunday, June 13; and Saturday, June 26.

"Much Ado About Nothing" is from a couple of years earlier. The play is known for the barbed and spirited wit combats between Beatrice and Benedick. Both are sworn foes of marriage, especially to each other. Unsurprisingly, the play ends with their betrothal. It will be presented on Friday and Saturday, June 11 and 12; Friday, June 18; and Sunday, June 27.

The final item on the menu is titled "Legends of Arthur and Merlin." The description given of the play is rather mysterious. The Menlo Players Guild says it's the world premiere of an original work, a "family play filled with magic, brave deeds, cunning villains, and virtues." There are only three performances, on Saturday and Sunday, June 19 and 20, and Friday, June 25.

The locale is Mid-Peninsula High School at 1340 Willow Road. Friday and Saturday performances begin at 8 p.m., Sunday performances at 7 p.m.

The press release reminds us that performances are outdoors and that evenings become chilly. I know from past attendance that this is no hyperbole. So unless you want to shiver with more than excitement, bring layers. I also know that past productions have been, in the main, of high quality and most enjoyable.

Admission is free, though donations are encouraged. For information, call 322-3261 or visit

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