It’s fairly easy to fall into a number of traps when performing a production of this play. Though it clearly has two leads, the ensemble is vital in making it work. Often casts call fall into the trap of a poor mixture in tone for their performances. One actor might play up the high drama while another is too needy for laughs, and another might try to update the text with contemporary indifference- these actors have all seemed to land in a tone that feels consistent and generous to their co-stars. A team effort, as it should be. The props, music and costumes feel unique and yet don’t dominate the text as some often do, leaning more towards the vital rather than an overindulgence of ‘business’ for the actors to hide behind. What I loved most that this play offers is the reminder that even something most theater folk have learned to dismiss out of familiarity, can still be relevant. From the sexual politics of today and the rising political voice of the American teenager to the ever deepening rivalry between the social tribes of our culture. You can see something dozens of times over the course of your life but it takes the right group of artists to make it all feel new. I commend Venable and his cast and highly recommend this production.
What I didn't like
A few very minor technical hiccups that couldn’t quite serve as distractions but will no doubt be tweaked after the preview that I saw.
My overall impression
A fantastic cast gives a nuanced and moving performance of this classic play. With subtle idiosyncrasies that make this version its own unique beast while staying true to the source material, Venable and cast put on a production that feels fresh but never too arrogant to think complete reinvention is required to perform compelling Shakespeare.