Measure for Measure
SYDNEY SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL at the Old Fitzroy Theatre presented by Sydney Independent Theatre Company.
Directed by Richard Hillar
Reviewed by Ben Oxley
Shakespeare's Measure for Measure tells of the fate of Claudio (Alexander Spinks), who is arrested by Lord Angelo (Nick Hunter), the temporary ruler of Vienna, left in charge by the Duke (John Grinston) who pretends to leave town but instead dresses as a friar to observe the goings-on in his absence.
As it is set in nearby Kings Cross, it made me think of the political shenanigans of recent times, although the players are not imprisoned. Consider also these same players had given King Lear the night before.
Hunter plays Angelo as strict, moralistic, and unwavering in his decision-making; he shows us a self-deceived bigot. No need for any former premiers here.
Claudio is arrested for getting Juliet (Hailey McQueen) his lover pregnant, before they were married. Although they were engaged and their sexual intercourse was consensual, Claudio is sentenced to death. Tough call.
Aiding and abetting are Pompey (Kieran Foster) and Elbow (Jasper Garner Gore), with lively delivery and well-maintained comic capers. The male and female minor parts were well handled, especially by Leo Kingsford-Smith and Hailey McQueen.
Isabella (powerfully portrayed by Danielle Baynes), Claudio's sister, is about to enter a nunnery when her brother is arrested. When she hears of her brother's arrest, she goes to Angelo to beg him for mercy. He refuses, but suggests that there might be another way. He propositions her, she is shocked and immediately refuses.
Claudio learns of these events, and agrees to his sister's intervention at first but then changes his mind. Isabella then intercedes for her brother with a visiting friar, the Duke in disguise. This could be done more convincingly perhaps by using a hood.
The second half opens in medias res with a karaoke competition, which Mariana (Amy Scott- Smith) gives a clever segue into the drama.
The Duke forms a plan by which Isabella will agree to have sex with Angelo, but then Mariana will go in her place. The next morning, Angelo will pardon Claudio and be forced to marry Mariana according to the law.
The Duke returns in his usual clothes, saying that he will hear all grievances immediately.
It is Isabella's story that the Duke pretends not to believe her. If you are confused, the ending will help you, as in all good finales we have resolution, or do we?
from 20 Nov to 21 Dec 2013