Mounting one of Shakespeare's plays for 21st century audiences involves the infusing of energy into the most mundane elements in order to maintain interest between the scenes involving principal characters.
The American Coast Theater Company — the professional arm of Costa Mesa's Vanguard University — fully comprehends this requirement and demonstrates it throughout its lively production of "The Taming of the Shrew." It doesn't hurt, either, to have Vanguard's two hottest talents in the leading roles.
Before the classic conflict between Katherine (Susan K. Berkompas) and Petruchio (Paul Eggington) plays out, there are several expository moments that director Kevin Slay instills with comedic electricity. The three suitors of the younger sister establish their positions with all the subtlety of the Three Stooges or the Marx Brothers.
With this groundwork aptly laid, Berkompas and Eggington have at it in frenetic, no-holds-barred fashion, drawing figurative blood as much with their dialogue as with their actions. Berkompas is superb as the "lusty, brawling scold" who must be wed before the fair Bianca (a coquettish Deborah Marley) and as amicable as a charging rhino.