This spirited rendition of the Bard’s comedy of sexual misadventures manages to reach across the centuries by using a modern setting but never commenting on it. While newcomers to Shakespearean language may require some time to acclimate, it quickly becomes apparent that the situations speak for themselves—even if you can’t absorb the precise meaning of every utterance. What’s more, the actors seem completely at ease with this dialogue.
Led by a feisty Amy Acker as Beatrice and Alexis Denisof as Benedick, the ensemble breathes life into every comedic turn in this ode to the vicissitudes of love and romance. Whedon and his cast have fun with the incongruity of enacting this ageless play in a contemporary setting, and as a result, so do we.
If even a handful of Joss Whedon’s many fans give Shakespeare a try because of this labor-of-love, the prodigious writer-director will have struck a welcome blow for civilization. Well played, sir!