Fem Pop (2013)
March 15, 2013
[Extract concerning Amy’s turn as Beatrice]
… Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof as the lovers Beatrice and Benedick play things almost shockingly modern. Rather than farce they bring a sitcom flare to the comedy and plumb the depths of the drama for every ounce of pathos. In their hands Shakespeare’s play isn’t tonally challenged, it’s well-rounded. These feel like genuine characters with histories and desires beyond the page. Particularly when Acker finally reaches Beatrice’s “If I Were A Man” speech.
I’ve seen this speech performed a number of times. I’ve watched Catherine Tate and Emma Thompson and a couple of stage actresses cry and wail through it and I’ve watched Sarah Parish rage through a modern version that was hitherto my favorite take on it, but then Amy Acker pounds her fists against Denisof’s chest and unearths the fury of an entire sex. Never have I seen the monologue performed with such a naked feminist slant. It’s actually breathtaking to watch her subvert the text. There is an agony in her performance that many performers and directors would shy away from. She takes the teasing talk of gender that lies below the surface of the play, grabs it by the roots, and rips it out so everyone can see it too, and Whedon’s camera catches every moment–following her at a distance so as to not hide any of the physicality she brings to the monologue.