January 11, 2016

Sensation slides into silliness in “The Changeling,” a 1622 tragedy — with generous dollops of comedy — by Thomas Middleton and William Rowley. The convoluted story grows more lurid and strained as the play hurtles toward its predictably bloody conclusion, but with a fine cast bringing sufficient heat to the panting plotlines, the Red Bull Theater and its artistic director, Jesse Berger, once again win admiration for presenting a rarely seen drama from the Jacobean era with highly caffeinated verve. (Their previous productions include Middleton’s “Women Beware Women” and “The Revenger’s Tragedy.”) Sara Topham, who appeared in the most recent Broadway production of “The Importance of Being Earnest,” plays Beatrice, the central female role, a young and comely Spanish noblewoman who is instantly smitten with Alsemero (Christian Coulson), who is smitten right back. This development poses a significant problem, since Beatrice’s marriage to Alonzo de Piracquo (John Skelley), approved by her father, Vermandero (Sam Tsoutsouvas), is expected to take place imminently.