With a gender-bending cast, occasional audience interaction, and a fresh take on the 16th Century playwright's classic lines, this is not your grandparents' Shakespeare in the Park. The Free Theater offers a quintessentially Bay Area interpretation of Will's famous words, and it won't leave you disappointed. In April, the group presented Romeo & Juliet at the Oakland Omni Commons, featuring women in the roles of both Romeo and Juliet. The nurse, played by Michael Gaffney, had audience members rolling with laughter, and the talented Kelli Crump, who played Mercutio, delivered a memorable rendition of one of Shakespeare's most repeated soliloquies, the Queen Mab monologue. Only a year old, the group launched Henry IV, Part One, its third production ever, on July 11 at John Hinkel Park in Berkeley. Check it out on Saturdays and Sundays at 4 p.m. through August 2. Performances are free, but the actors' rent payments are not, so donations are encouraged.
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