The Comedy of Errors

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Weekends through Sept. 20. Free; 558-0888 or www.sfshakes.org.
The Presidio's Main Post Parade Ground Lawn, 34 Graham (at Keyes), S.F.

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Free Shakespeare in the park. It's such a heart-warming proposition, a fine idea whose public value endures; with this production, SF Shakes has been at it for 25 years. But there will be no resting on laurels for director Kenneth Kelleher, who grabs ahold of the Bard's classic gag show and charges it up with brisk, circusy folly. Thus does the tale of a man, his servant, their long-lost twins, and a whole city's confusion become a controlled bedlam of squeaking men and shrieking women, all working hard to have themselves a hell of a time. With faces painted and bodies vividly attired, they juggle knives and torches and pentameter and pop-culture riffs, generally enforcing a zero-tolerance policy with regard to stillness. They say it's crowd-pleasing, and it is, but that's also just another way of saying it's obsequious: Any production designed as if it were a mobile hanging over a child's crib has to make you wonder how much its designers really trust the audience, let alone the text. What isn't in doubt is the unanimous conviction of the cast (Daveed Diggs' soul-powered, ad-lib–loving Duke Solinus is a gladdening standout). See it for their sakes, and for the sake of keeping this cherished tradition alive.

 
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