South Sounders looking for outdoor Shakespeare this summer have three choices – although they all involve heading north. Wooden O’s annual free productions in parks are the comedy "Two Gentlemen of Verona" and the historical tragedy "Julius Caesar," running July 10-August 10 in various Seattle parks; while Freehold Theatre Lab’s adaptation of "Henry IV" runs July 12-20 at the University of Washington’s Penthouse Theater.
Thought by some to be the Bard’s first play, "Two Gentlemen of Verona" tells the love-twined tale of two young men and the girls they fall in love with, complete with the usual Shakespearean cross-dressing, misunderstandings, damsels in distress and so on. "Julius Caesar" needs no introduction – the story of the assassinated Roman emperor is one of Shakespeare’s most popular. Productions run concurrently at Luther Burbank Park Amphitheater on Mercer Island, Volunteer Park, Richmond Beach in Shoreline, Edmonds city park, Lynndale Park Amphitheater in Lynnwood, Angle Lake Park in SeaTac, Pine Lake Park in Sammamish, the Seattle Center, Issaquah Community Center Open Space and Des Moines Beach Park (7 p.m. Aug. 2 for "Two Gentlemen"). Complete schedule and information at 206-722-8228, seattleshakespeare.org
At the same time, Freehold Theatre Lab presents two weeks of Pay-What-You-Can performances of "The Flower of England’s Face: William Shakespeare’s Henry IV" at the University of Washington’s Penthouse Theatre, plus community locations. The adaptation by Reginald Andre Jackson includes parts of the original "Henry IV" parts 1 and 2, with a smattering of "Richard II" for background (King Richard appears as a ghost) According to the press release, the history play deals with "the human ability and necessity to reinvent ourselves, and the human resilience and courage it takes to break out of conventional expectations." The play will be performed with live music composed by Gino Yevdjevich of the band Kultur Shock, and stars Seattle actor Tony Pasqualini as King Henry IV.
Performances run 8 p.m. July 12, 14, 16-19, and 4 p.m. July 13, 20; with July 13 being an "enhanced performance" including a communal meal and debates, storytelling, improvisation and poetry with cast members. Tickets are Pay-What-You-Can, reservable on brownpapertickets.com. Penthouse Theater, University of Washington, NE 45th Street and 17th Avenue NE, Seattle. 206-323-7499, freeholdtheatre.org