This past Friday, my wife and I enjoyed the premier of the "The Gamester",  performed by the repertory company of the Central Coast Shakespeare Festival.  The Gamester is based on an original French comedy from 1696, but recently updated by an American playwright.

Gamester- Shakespeare Festival 2010
(Photo: Madame Securite putting the moves on Valere.)

Neither my wife nor I had any idea what a delightful experience it would turn out to be. Though we have enjoyed many Shakepeare Festival plays over the years, we knew nothing of the playwrights, nor of this play itself.

"The Gamester" turns out to be a very funny - and yes "bawdy" - comedy about a "hero" (Valere) addicted to gambling, which his long-suffering servant, father, fiancé  and creditors all want him to give up - or else. The only ones not wanting him to give up gambling are a nymphomaniac widow - who enjoys receiving certain "favors" from men that she bails out, and a scheming maid. The acting, costumes and outdoor venue were perfect, and the audience obviously enjoyed the performance. (See brief YouTube Video clip of Madame Securite (the widow) meeting Valere for the first time since their last tryst.)

It's amazing how much local professional talent is on display. The key roles are either played by professional actors, or very talented locals with a long (and I do mean long) history of performing. Many are graduates of the professional acting school in nearby Santa Maria the "Pacific Conservatory for the Performing Arts" ("PCPA" - you may have heard of some students including Kathy Bates and Robin Williams.) I can hardly wait until next week to see the premier of their other play for this season - Shakespeare's comedy "Twelfth Night".

Housekeeping details: The Gamester will be performed on selected Friday, Saturday & Sunday evenings between now and August 6. It will be in rotation with performances of the comedy "Twelfth Night". Tickets are $20/person, $18 for students and seniors. You are encouraged to arrive early and bring a picnic. Wine and beer are available for purchase. Nights are usually pleasantly warm, but bring jackets in case not. Do bring low back chairs or blankets to sit on.