Of all Shakespeare’s lovers, Much Ado About Nothing’s Benedick and Beatrice may be the most fun to watch. They verbally joust, jest and spar and, Much Ado being a comedy, end up happily, romantically coupled at the end. This play, even with its Claudio-wronging-the fair Hero subplot, should be fun from start to finish. It absolutely is at Intrepid Shakespeare Company, where Sean Yael-Cox and Shana Wride make a delightful Benedick and Beatrice, and an outstanding supporting cast that includes Ruff Yeager (as Leonato), Matt Thompson (Don Pedro), Charles Evans Jr. (Claudio) and Tom Stephenson (hapless sheriff Dogberry) justifies all the Bard’s intended ado. Director Richard Baird thoughtfully employs both recorded and live music during the proceedings, set in Sicily in 1931, and has guided a large cast with aplomb on the small theater-in-the-round at Encinitas’ Performing Arts Center at San Dieguito Academy. You’re so close to the actors that you feel directly involved in the action. You almost expect Leonato to offer you a glass of wine. Alas, he doesn’t.
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.