The jogger paused, running in place, at the strange sound and scene on the Sylvan Theater: A young woman in knickers delivering Viola's lovely lines from Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night." And there was the silly, pompous Malvolio strutting about in a Brooks Brothers suit.
It was not a heat mirage but a 1920s version of Shakespeare's sunny comedy of mixed-up identities and loves presented by Dragon, a small community theater company.
It must be made clear that this "Twelfth Night" is not associated with Ellie Chamberlain's summer Shakespeare Festival, which played the Mall for its 20th season last year. If Chamberlain is to mount a show this summer, the federal government will have to restore deleted funds.
The Shakespeare not at the Sylvan Theater for eight performances is being staged by a nonprofit troupe that put on one other show in a Georgetown church this spring. When Dragon lost the space for its production of "Twelfth Night," it scouted around and found the Sylvan was available.
To cut lighting costs, performances are scheduled for 6:30 p.m."We do have one light for the last scenes," said director Shaun Miskell. "We didn't want the actors to speed up their lines.
"One reason for updating the play to the 1920s was that the costumes would be simpler to make," Miskell said.And some of the modernized scenes don't work that badly. Viola, who dons male attire and the name of Cesario, is quite saucy in her knickers. And Sir Toby Belch in a sarari jacket with a hip flask isn't that much of a jolt. The young members of the cast are inexperienced but speak the lines with reasonable rhythm and fidelity.
And, on a hot summer night, one could do worse than stretch on the Ellipse greensward and see a scene or two from a happy Shakespeare comedy.
Performances are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. through Friday and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. The last two shows will be at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday next week.