For Valley Shakespeare buffs, north is an inviting direction this summer. Even for practitioners of "bardolotry"--to use Shaw's sneering phrase--unwilling to trek all the way to the Utah Shakespeare Festival, a couple of more modest pilgrimages are possible: There's iambic pentameter among the pines at Flagstaff's Grand Canyon Shakespeare Festival and among the Red Rocks at Shakespeare Sedona.
The latter kicks off its inaugural season with Valley director and Arizona Republic op-ed darling--for his supposed martyrdom to ASU's political correctness--Jared Sakren's production of The Comedy of Errors. Sakren, Shakespeare Sedona's artistic director, is remounting his first-rate ASU production of two years ago.
Shakespeare's briefest play--some scholars believe it's his first--Errors is a study in improbability about identical twins, separated at birth, who are driven to distraction when their acquaintances mistake them for each other. It's based on the ancient Plautine farce The Menaechmi, but the young smart-aleck Shakespeare decided to up the ante by giving Plautus' single set of twins a pair of identical twin slaves.
Sakren gives his version an Ottoman-era look, with actors in turbans, silks and fezzes. The director also comes up with some genuinely clever shtick, like the slide show that accompanies Egeus (Hamilton Mitchell returns in the role) in his opening-scene barrage of exposition.
The Comedy of Errors opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 9, and continues with performances at 7:30 p.m. Friday, July 10; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 11; and 2 p.m. Sunday, July 12, at Red Rock High Auditorium, 992 Upper Red Rock Loop Road in Sedona. The run continues through Sunday, July 19. Also on the festival's schedule is The Macbeth Project, an adaptation of the great "Scottish Play" directed by the Long Wharf Theatre's Greg Leaming, which opens Thursday, July 23; and, on Monday, July 20, a single performance of Passions' Slaves, a one-man show of Shakespeare's great soliloquies--spread over a dozen different characters--by actor Patrick Page. Page's show is free, with donations accepted; tickets to other shows are $15, $12 for students and seniors. 1-520-282-0747.