Gregory Doran’s RSC production of Measure for Measure is a subtle and absorbing account of a play that gets weirder with every viewing.
Greg Doran has translated the play’s Viennese setting to the 1900s, but while there has clearly been an imaginative attempt at a credible interpretation of the yarn, this production is hamstrung by too much mediocrity.
Intertwining ribald comedy with a morality tale is no easy feat, yet an outstanding cast and creative team reinforce this thought-provoking and immersive experience of Measure for Measure for all to enjoy.
It’s all in a name this week as our editor Lisa Martland picks out her Top Picks from the last week’s theatre in the West End, London Fringe or beyond.
Gregory Doran’s timely and riveting adaptation of Measure for Measure is filled with laugh-out-loud humour, but there is also a bleaker side to it that makes it very much a play for today.
What Gregory Doran frames most brilliantly in Measure For Measure at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford upon Avon is the is the central confusion of morality.
Later this year, the three Shakespeare productions from the Royal Shakespeare Company’s (RSC) summer 2019 Stratford season transfer to the Barbican from 26 October 2019.
There’s every reason why Josie Rourke should have chosen Measure for Measure to direct in her final season as the Donmar’s artistic director. Anyone with half an ear to public events in the arena of gender relations and abuse of power in the past two years would recognise its extraordinary pertinence.
Mark Shenton offers the week’s news, reviews, quotes and tweets in theatre from both sides of the Atlantic, including an interview with Sonia Friedman, reviews of Shakespeare in three different abbreviated versions, and a YouTube star appearing on Broadway.
This is a made for measure Measure-For-Measure. Its greatest achievement is hacking the flabby old Jacobian down to the right side of 90 minutes. It rollicks through, giving a booster jab to the drama but keeping quiet pauses and poetry.
In a year of revelations about the abuse of power and sexual misconduct, the timing couldn’t be better for Measure for Measure at the Donmar Warehouse, an intriguing tale of blackmail, morality and duty.
It honestly doesn’t let up. At all. After an Edinburgh-focused August, and a ‘keep myself busy at all costs’ September (mostly to avoid the hell that is rush hour transport), October has rolled in, bursting at the seams because there is too much to do.
RSC artistic director Gregory Doran announced today his ambition for a new collaborative cross-cast ensemble which reflects the nation, to play three Shakespeare productions in a newly reconfigured Royal Shakespeare Theatre next summer.
The Donmar Warehouse has announced the full casting for artistic director Josie Rourke’s production of William Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure. Previews start from Friday 28 September 2018.
Artistic director Josie Rourke has announced two new Donmar Warehouse productions for 2018: Brian Friel’s the Aristocrats, directed by Lyndsey Turner, and her own gender-swapping production of Measure for Measure, starring Hayley Atwell and Jack Lowden.
This week the AULTP bloggers discuss two Measure for Measures, at the Globe versus the Young Vic, Trevor Nunn’s revival of Shakespearean epic The Wars of The Roses, and new comedy Dinner with Saddam.
Shakespeare’s strangest and nastiest play is a kind of black farce where the reckless dash to redemption makes the redemption itself – forgiveness, reconciliation, all is sort of forgiven – seem like an afterthought. Joe Hill-Gibbins is having none of it and dives into the play’s intractable vision of a city, a culture, a world, caught in a spiral of skewed morality with almost indecent relish. It’s all noise and garage music and a tangle of exhausted blow-up sex dolls. And it moves so fast (1 hour 50, no interval) that the lines between sin and retribution and perpetually blurred.
Sex is at this play’s core. But it’s not sexy in the slightest. It’s a means of leverage, abuse, it’s a crime, a threat. Each of the 50 or so plastic sex dolls strewn across the stage make you want to stew in hot bleach. You can taste the immorality of this Vienna.
Measure For Measure is one of Shakespeare’s problematic
plays, a comedy that can be difficult to come to terms with for modern
audiences. The mix of bawdy banter and religious fervour is a heady one and Dominic Dromgoole, in his last
directorial outing as Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s
Globe, gives both sides of the argument equal time.
By now I’ve grown to expect an interesting preamble whenever
I see a show at the Globe, from the decadence of Cleopatra’s court to the
capering of a Dromio in Comedy of Errors it pays to be in your seat early… Even
I wasn’t prepared for the anarchy of bawds and whores cooing at the audience
and dragging punters into their houses while the constable gives chase. Its
choreographed anarchy and brilliant fun!
At it’s heart the
show swings around Angelo and Isabella, the former a pious lord who rules
Vienna in the stead of the departed Duke, the latter the sister of a man
sentenced to death for impregnating a young lady who was not his wife. Kurt Egyiawan makes for a particularly
rigid Angelo and the scene where he fails to control his lust for Isabella’s
purity is beautifully played. Mariah
Gale’s Isabella is a beacon of wholesome devotion, save for the moment her
brother begs her to offer up her body in payment for his freedom and she lashes
out at his face. She gives her character layers of conflicting feelings, though
sometimes her voice fails to carry nearly as well as her castmates.
The drama of Isabella’s dilemma is a stark contrast to the
slapstick comedy elsewhere as prostitutes and men of ill repute are rounded up
by the dim-witted Constable Elbow. The two tones give the play some much needed
levity but occasionally threaten to overwhelm the seriousness of the story.
The whole is orchestrated with aplomb by Dominic Rowan’s fast-talking Duke.
Often portrayed as a wise and benevolent benefactor, Rowan gives him the air of
a man making it up as he goes along and never truly sure of what will happen
next. A refreshing take.
As Dromgoole’s globe farewell this is perhaps a lacklustre
choice, but not for want of some great ensemble work. Even in baking heat the
cast were a blur of motion – not easy in woollen costumes that had already been
worn once that day I’m sure!