Through Sept. 21 at Golden Gate Park,
near Third Avenue & Fulton (west of the
Conservatory of Flowers), S.F.; then
Sept. 27 through Oct. 5 at Lakeside Park
(Duck Pond Meadow), near Perkins &
Kenneth Kelleher's overwrought outdoor production of Shakespeare's overwrought comedy plays on a stage decorated with classical Italian statues and a California poppy. The kingdom of Navarre is meant to be in Basque country, between France and Spain, but Kelleher has moved it to modern, Fellini-era Italy (with a nod to California, where ladies from France were just as likely to run around wearing kerchiefs and white-rimmed sunglasses). The story lends itself to such light, effervescent treatment: It's about four noblemen (the king of Navarre and three lords) swearing off romance and other soft comforts until four irresistible Frenchwomen turn up on a diplomatic mission. One by one, the men are forced to admit their love, while the Spaniard Don Adriano de Armado provides comic relief by wooing a wild peasant girl named Jacquenetta. Hector Correa exaggerates all of Armado's lines to hilarious effect ("Be still, drum," Armado says to his own heart, "for your manager is ... in ... LUFF"), but the rest of the cast can't match his talent for broad humor, and seems a bit stodgy by comparison. The major exception is Chris Ayles, who shows that filling every nuance in Shakespeare's lines -- even with a pedantic character like Holofernes, the schoolmaster -- is a much better strategy than over-the-top farce for making Elizabethan English clear to the masses on a sunny day in the park.