Credit second then to the performers, the well-integrated ensemble, who fill out Arbus's productions. Maggie Siff, who was Kate in last season's Taming of the Shrew (and had a recurring role on Mad Men), plays Beatrice here, and like the great Lily Rabe she makes Shakespeare sound vibrant, conversational, and contemporary—her verbal sparring with Benedick becomes a knee-slapping, screwball battle of wits to rival Shrew's bawdy banter. But it's Jonathan Cake, as Benedick, who comes to dominate this production, establishing himself, in audience-addressing soliloquies, as the funniest man in town, chewing up the poetry and spitting it out in excitable bursts; he finds the physical in it, too: crawling covertly, leaping in love. "Man is a giddy thing," Benedick says. Ditto this production.
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