Once again last night, Alex and I took advantage of free tickets to go and see Measure for Measure in the New Music Room at Corpus Christi, and once again were pleasantly surprised. MfM is a Shakespeare play about which I knew nothing before going along at all, so I thought it would be interesting to see if I could follow it without already knowing what direction it would be taking. Fortunately, the answer was yes, and the play turned out to be an interesting one, neither tragic, nor comic really (although with the traditional end of a comedy :) ) Although Daily Info put the thing up on the web themselves, I've decided I want my own copies, so here is what I've sent them.
Measure for Measure is a difficult play to categorize, neither comedy nor tragedy but with humorous moments and serious themes. The story kicks off with the Duke leaving his city in the care of Lord Angelo, his deputy. His Machiavellian plan is that Angelo will enforce the laws he has let slacken so he doesn't have to lose his popularity, while he watches in the guise of a friar. When young Claudio is taken up for sleeping with his wife to be and sentenced to death, his friend Lucio rushes to fetch Claudio's sister Isabella from the convent where she's about to enter the notivate to persuade Angelo to change his mind. And so it goes on, in the convoluted manner of all Shakespeare plots. The play has been stripped down to the bones, which gives it a sense of directness and plenty of pace.
The staging was very sparse, which seemed to suit the enclosed setting, if also a little fragile at times, only a loose curtain separating the stage and the wings. The costuming overall was a little haphazard, and generally plain. The Duke in particular needed a little more of a cowl to make his friars disguise feel right – it’s hard to hide your face under a hat! The stand out here was Lucio, the closest thing to Eddie Izzard you'll see in a student production. He also produces an admirable performance as the louche man about town, well meaning, but slanderous. All the cast slipped extremely naturally into the mannered exchanges of Shakespeare’s English, putting the sense over clearly. Olivia Grant (Isabella) produced a very believable performance of a sister trying desperately to help her brother in any way she can, the sometimes convoluted phrasing of her appeals seeming natural. Kieran Wanduragala as Angelo showed how the mighty can be brought low and Micha Lazarus as the Duke was excellent as the hand behind the curtain, determined that things should all come right. Although these performances stood out, all the cast gave good strong performances, creating together a very enjoyable production.