Two good reasons for a drive

The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Seriously, dude, never trust a frat brother with your girlfriend.

Seriously, dude, never trust a frat brother with your girlfriend.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday; $20-$80. Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival at Sand Harbor State Park, 2005 Highway 28; in Incline Village, Nevada; (800) 747-4697; Through August 26.

Sand Harbor State Park

2005 Hwy. 28
Incline Village, NV 89452

(775) 831-0494

Rated 4.0

Coffeehouses, wine bars and an indie-pop band live onstage: That’s the updated setting for this Shakespeare comedy. Waiters buzz through as well-heeled young people scribble secret love letters over a mug of this, a bottle of that, while music smoothes scene transitions. Shakespeare probably lived a similar dream.

At the center are Valentine and Proteus, 20-ish pals—almost frat brothers—who boast of lofty longings for their ladies but feel a carnal urge, too. When Proteus abruptly dumps his flame and makes an underhanded play for Valentine’s love (and gets his erstwhile “best friend” banished), giddy amour yields to desperation and deceit. And while Shakespeare salvages a requisitely “happy” ending, this near collision with tragedy as the clock runs out leads many to dismiss Two Gentlemen as “flawed.”

Well, maybe not. Director Charles Fee doesn’t push it too hard, but he clearly feels that bad behavior between buddies is not so rare. And really, in college, didn’t you know guys who made a pass at a roommate’s girlfriend? Aren’t there countless stories about politicians and celebrities in ugly love triangles? Even though Two Gents lacks the symmetrical, tidy finale found in more popular Shakespeare comedies, isn’t it more realistic? To quote Robinson Jeffers, “then that which is most disliked in those verses remains most true.”

The Two Gentlemen of Verona is also known to Shakespeareans as “the one with the dog.” And this pooch steals scenes, using little more than wagging tail. Veteran actor Kevin Crouch, as lowly manservant Launce, the dog’s owner, grins and works up a sweat as he gabs on about how the mutt lifted a leg during a high-class palace banquet.

All in all, the cast is fairly deep, with 10 Actors’ Equity Association contracts giving the production a nice professional sheen. Be sure to bring a sweater: It gets cool after intermission. The production’s gorgeous lakeside venue cuts both ways: It’s incredibly beautiful, but gazing at the view can compete with as much as it complements the show. The view and the show are a couple of good reasons to take the drive to Tahoe.