Signature Moment | THEATER

The Pants Came Down on A Night That Lifted Hopes

As Malvolio in
As Malvolio in "Twelfth Night," Bronson Pinchot dropped trou on opening night of the Shakespeare in Washington festival. (By Carol Guzy -- The Washington Post)
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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Our top moment in Washington theater from 2007:

The pinnacle of the six-month Shakespeare in Washington festival was reached when Bronson Pinchot dropped his pants. This singular event took place at the Kennedy Center on Jan. 6, the first night of the festival, when actors gathered on the Concert Hall stage for a reading of "Twelfth Night" -- in which Pinchot portrayed the foolish Malvolio, who reveals himself the wearer of the play's hilarious cross-gartering. The reading was free and provoked a truly invigorating sight: thousands of Washingtonians lined up around the center, hoping for a seat to hear Shakespeare.

That no other evening over the ensuing months stirred up quite so much excitement proved, in retrospect, an indication of the festival's unfulfilled promise: Although there were strong entries, such as the Royal Shakespeare Company's vigorous "Coriolanus," the event suffered both from its sheer length and the variable quality of its mix-and-match approach. On that first night, however, the pleasure of expectation surged through the hall, reinforced by the likes of Pinchot and other gleeful clowns.

-- Peter Marks

© 2007 The Washington Post Company