Berg plays blowhard bachelor-for-life Benedick. His initial pomposity
transitions nicely into a more self-aware and yielding performance.
Reduxion Managing Director Erin Woods is a perfect foil as Beatrice,
fully embodying her fierce intelligence, sharp wit and unpretentious
Kyle Gossett successfully portrays Claudio, who embodies all the best and worst traits of young love. Kathryn Spurr, making her Reduxion debut, makes a strong impression as Hero, the target of Claudio’s affection and scorn. Although Hero is not nearly as interesting on the surface as her headstrong cousin Beatrice, Spurr strikes just the right balance of obedience and heartache against strength and conviction.
As Hero’s beleaguered father, David Fletcher-Hall delivers a portrayal both powerful and naturalistic, aided by his authentic English accent. As Don Pedro, Sam Bearer turns in another precise vocal performance.
Rachael Barry is lovely in her brief turn as Beatrice’s gentlewoman attendant, but is brilliant in her comically daring portrayal of Don Jon, the villainous brother to Don Pedro. While it’s comedy gold, Don Jon loses some potency as a threat. Barry scores even more laughs as the lecherous elderly guard, Verges.
The cast is rounded out by Reduxion regulars Jeffrey Burleson and Ian Clinton. Burleson’s testosterone-infused turn as the idiot Constable Dogberry is hugely entertaining, despite some intentional malapropisms getting lost in the comical Italian accent. Clinton is solid as remorseful villain Barochio, but truly shines as Ursula, Hero’s gentlewoman attendant.
An actor in drag is always sure to entertain, but Clinton goes beyond female parody to create a character who is sweet, bubbly and imminently watchable in little stage time.
The show has been infused with music, courtesy of Gossett, pulling double duty as music director.
All of this — along with incisive direction and spry staging by Tyler Woods, and sharp costumes by Lloyd Cracknell — helps make this 400-year-old play feel fresh and unpredictable without a single edit to the text.