Ruth Eglsaer shines as Isabella, giving the role its full emotional due and investing her lines with intelligence and grace. Brent Harris brings the slightly seedy forcefulness of an itinerant preacher to Angelo. Sam Gregory's Lucio capers amusingly between inconsequence and malevolence, and Randy Moore is the picture of a saturnine, turn-of-the-century Viennese gentleman. There's great strength in the smaller roles, too: Bill Christ as the unrepentant and unregenerate Barnardine; Mark Rubald as the kindly Provost; Philip Pleasants as a stitch of an executioner. David Ivers manages to make one of those tediously unfunny minor comic characters that infest Shakespeare's work extremely funny.
This is the best Shakespeare I've seen in Colorado in years, possibly the best I've ever seen here. I wouldn't have interpreted the play exactly as Thompson does, but his interpretations are thoughtful, coherent and respectful of the text. Most important, they change the contours of the play a little, allowing us to see it fresh. Suffer through too much mediocre Shakespeare, and you almost forget how full of wisdom and vitality these 500-year-old works are. This production is a radiant reminder.