- PHOTO BY ADRIAN PEREZ
- TAKE IT ALL OFF : Madame Sécurité at work on one of her conquests.
The 2010 CCSF opened on July 9 with a performance of The Gamester. Thomas based her play on Jean-Francois Regnard’s Le Joueur (1696). Set in Paris, the play follows a group of men and women who are all affected by compulsive gambling, their own or that of a loved one. As the sun sets and the wind dies down, the frilly period costumes and comedic banter of the sex-starved widows, obsessive gamblers, exasperated servants, maidens, and wealthy patriarchs carries the audience through a rollercoaster of events. Written in rhyming couplets, the dialogue has a fun rhythm with some obvious puns and some unexpected twists, yet has been carefully crafted to maintain the rhythm and intonation of natural speech. Occasionally you might hear a couplet reminiscent of Dr. Seuss as it paints an alliterative image.
- PHOTO BY ADRIAN PEREZ
As the play begins, it becomes clear the audience is expected to interact with the players, as characters appeal to the audience in several asides, asking questions and moving freely among the spectators. The motivations and inner thoughts of the characters are as transparent to the audience as the backstage. Seen through the stilts of the wooden platform, the area backstage includes a lake and a green on the River Oaks golf course.
The Gamester was chosen because it makes references to Shakespeare and quotes some of his characters. Twelfth Night and The Gamester share similar themes, such as role reversals between the sexes, grieving widows, and mistaken identity. The widow Madame Sécurité, a drunken nymphomaniac who pays men to have sex with her, displays her vices blatantly and without apology.
The CCSF provides a great opportunity to see theatre in a beautiful and intimate outdoor setting. The only distraction from the stage is the occasional guttural croaking of the lake’s resident bullfrog and the distant rumbling of trains. During the performance I saw, not a single cell phone rang and children were unobtrusive. Folks reclined, wrapped in blankets and sleeping bags, sipped wine, munched sandwiches, and savored the exploits of a time long past, whose themes still ring true. Outdoor Shakespeare performances, the epitome of summer entertainment, should be a staple in every community. I’ll see you at Twelfth Night: You bring the cheese— I’ll supply the crackers.
Arielle Perez likes to be entertained. Send stories and jokes via Ashley Schwellenbach to firstname.lastname@example.org