Shakespeare wrote, "The play's the thing," and those looking to escape this summer's movie schlock may realize he was never more right when Free Shakespeare in the Park brings its newest production to town. Love's Labour's Lost follows four noblemen who swear off women to concentrate on studying (anyone who thinks Shakespeare isn't relevant doesn't have teenage kids). Predictably, the men abandon their oath when the princess of France arrives, and typical Elizabethan hilarity ensues.
But the play is more than a silly romantic comedy (neither Jennifer Lopez nor Ben Affleck appears in it). Lost is also one of Willie's cleverest pieces, sporting an unusually heavy load of puns and double entendres. Director Ken Kelleher further layers this production with themes from Fellini, Wilde, and even Monty Python. The Bard would be proud. The hanky-panky begins at 1:30 p.m. (the show runs through Sept. 21) west of the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, near Third Street & Fulton, S.F. Admission is free; call 422-2222 or visit www.sfshakes.org.
-- Jack Karp
Every year since 1886, the Caledonian Club of San Francisco has put on the Scottish Gathering and Games -- complete with myriad bagpipe bands, the caber (aka telephone pole) toss, Highland dancing, and sheepdog trials. At "Massed Bands" each evening, hundreds of musicians take their best shot at chestnuts like "Scotland the Brave" and "Highland Laddie." Watch out: "Amazing Grace" at sundown can really catch you off guard. It's pretty uncool to wind up with shining eyes and a lump in your throat with all those people around, even if they're in the same state. But who goes to the games to look cool? Most folks go for the shortbread, the soccer, and the vast quantities of beer. Please wear plaid, starting at 8 a.m. both days at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, 4501 Pleasanton (at Rose), Pleasanton. Admission is free-$22; call (800) 713-3160 or visit www.caledonian.org.
-- Hiya Swanhuyser
Eat Cable Car Dust!
After years of cable car renovations, S.F. decided to ring in the renewed line in style with a 1983 race, in which thousands of runners pursued a cable car up heart-stopping Nob Hill. The ANA Cable Car Chase & 5K Amble marks the rebirth of that classic event. Fear not, sprinters: You need not keep pace with the car (which chugs at a steady 9 mph). In fact, slower participants can better soak up the bay views. The race begins at 8 a.m. at Aquatic Park, Fisherman's Wharf, Jefferson & Hyde, S.F. Registration is $30; call 868-1829 or visit www.envirosports.com.
-- Joyce Slaton