#Tweetingit – 4**** An excellently reduced version of one of Shakespeare’s problem plays, keeping the politics light and the intrigue heavy. Perfect for a weekday evening!
I always love going to The Rose Playhouse. This historic venue with the archaeological remains of the original site at the back of
the theatre, can be restrictive and difficult for companies to navigate, but Heady Conduct used the entire grounds with ease, bringing an extra depth to their Measure for Measure.
After the critically acclaimed success of their first production, RECKLESS, Heady Conduct are have partnered up with SHAKESPEARE400 to present Measure for Measure Shakespeare’s dramatic tragi-comedy at The Rose Playhouse. This production is perfect for a weekday evening; intelligent storytelling, first rate performances and a good mix between comedy and drama ensuring that this “problem play” balances perfectly the plot’s heavier elements while not completely engulfing the comedy or intrigue.
Since it is not a well-known play (as far as I am aware) I will give a brief overview. Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure centres around the fate of Claudio, who is arrested by Lord Angelo, the temporary leader of Vienna, for (consensual) sex outside of marriage. Angelo is stern, moralistic, and resolute in his decision-making; he decides that there is too much freedom in Vienna and takes it upon himself to rid the city of brothels and unlawful sexual activity. Angelo goes about his business, attempting to execute his justice upon the city in place of the ‘beloved’ Duke Vincentio, who has gone undercover as a friar to observe what is going on his city. Caught in the middle is Claudio’s sister Isabella, who has chosen to become a nun, but is left in a quandary when presented with a surprising and hypocritical offer from Angelo, to save her brother. Obviously, as Shakespeare is want to do, there are numerous other side stories which all add to and enhance the themes of vice and virtue.
As I said, this is a somewhat condensed version of Measure for Measure. I personally have no problem with this, perhaps considered, “dumbing down” of what can be a very intense play.” I have not seen a “full” production of Measure for Measure, but to my eyes, it offered a perfect level of comedy and tragedy. Bringing together the pantomime elements, complete with audience interaction, at one point Lucio flirting with an ultimately even calling an audience member a ‘whore’ (in jest), made the play more shocking and intense when the sudden shift to more sinister scenes occurred.
The performances by the entire cast were solid, but specific mentions should go to Blake Kubena as the intensely creepy and yet slightly awkward Angelo, Rebecca Roger’s innocent Isabella and, for me, the star of the show, Simon Rodda’s fabulous comedic performance as Lucio.
My only confusion came at the very end when wrapping up the action – some of the “reveals” were not quite as clear as I think they could’ve been and I think that could be as a result of some over-zealous editing…
If you are a Measure for Measure veteran or want a radical or in depth version of this play, filled with gritty explorations of morality, sin, religion, sexuality and politics, perfect for deep academic study, this probably isn’t for you. If, however, you are looking for a well performed, condensed, and entertaining 90 minutes in a beautiful setting, Heady Conduct’s Measure for Measure should do the trick!