But it is Barton-Farcas and DiGioia who keep things focused, and it's well that they are so good, because after the fast pace of Act I, Act II begins to bog down. I believe this lies with the direction and not the play itself. The structure seemed strong; it was the slow pace that bothered me. It's a long drama (for modern audiences, anyway), and playing it slowly nudged some scenes towards melodrama. The play has enough meat to it; there's no need to give the actors license to chew.
All in all, all's well that ends well (except for poor Essex, of course). Unlike in a Shakespeare history, no one here dies on stage, at least. This substantial and rather difficult play uses Shakespeare's milieu to gamely confront matters of gender and sexuality. Nicu's Spoon proves an excellent utensil for the task.
At the Spoon Theater through April 19. Tickets online or call (866) 811-4111.