In Joss Whedon's The Avengers, Iron Man gets off a good burn on Thor during their intramural fight in the woods: "Shakespeare in the park?" he says. "Doth mother know you weareth her drapes?" Like any good Shakespearean pastiche, The Avengers began in media res, with a glowy cube thing ripping open a hole in space and admitting a Nordic trickster god, the culmination of events set in motion before the rise of the curtain. Whedon, whose body of work is almost entirely composed of television genre fiction, shares other traits with the Beardwright of Stratford, including his facial hair, populist leanings, affection for clever wordplay, willingness to kill beloved characters, and penchant for strong women. His tiny production of Much Ado About Nothing strips away all the CG chrome to lay bare the core elements of his style: fusillades of wit, romantic chemistry, sharp characterization, tough-ass heroines, and dramatic confrontations. Despite the characters' Club Monaco single-breasted suits, Much Ado About Nothing remains the play you tackled in middle-school English, the tale of an enchanted sausage festival in the country beset by a ridiculously evil villain, the action hinging on the incongruously cruel humiliation of a young girl. Whedon suggests the timelessness and universality of Much Ado, and he clearly wants his audience to be as uncomfortable with it Shakespeare is a living art, relatable and pleasure-extruding with or without pantaloons, always as fun and engaging as its participants. Whedon, whose interests in vampires and spaceships are adjacent to his feminist perspective and love of classic literature, is a lot of fun, and he has talented friends.