Measure for Measure – by Claire Tierney

April 15, 2013 in Blog by Cindy-Bandle-Young-Critics

Full of color, life, and 1970s flair, the Goodman Theatre’s production of “Measure for Measure,” directed by Robert Falls, is one of a kind. Shakespeare fans are sure to love the classic story and style of this production, and even those who are new to Shakespeare will enjoy the modernized take on this story.

The set design by Walt Spangler is simply amazing.  He has done a wonderful job with the space.  The incorporation of music and movement is also something to be seen.  The simple use of slow motion is a very dramatic and eye-catching effect.  Although the opening scene was phenomenal and full of energy, the energy level seemed to decrease slowly as the show continued.   The story is told in Shakespeare’s classic iambic pentameter, and for those who are new to this rhythmic style of speaking it takes some getting used to.  It seems at times that the actors are speaking a different language, it takes time for your mind to adjust, but if you really listen to the words you will discover  the beauty that is Shakespeare.

“Measure for Measure” is one of Shakespeare’s most provocative and captivating works. It is amazing to see a story written hundreds of years ago come to life onstage and actually feel its relevance to our society.  This play centers around the story of a Duke played by a stylishly dressed James Newcomb.  The Duke decides to go undercover in order to get a closer look at what is going on in his city of Vienna. The streets are lined with wild creatures of the night. Plenty of pre-marital and unsafe sex acts are portrayed onstage.  The Duke leaves in his absence a slimy and power-hungry Angelo, played by Jay Whittaker, who rules with an iron fist.  His first move is to imprison and put to death all fornicators, as at this time it was illegal to have sex before marriage.  Poor Claudio (Kevin Fugaro) is thrown in jail after it is found that his girlfriend is pregnant with his child.  Call in Claudio’s sister Isabella who is portrayed beautifully by Alejandra Escalante, a novice nun who tries her hardest to save her brother.  In true Shakespeare form there is always a twist.  Angelo tells Isabella that the only way she will ever free her brother is to give up her virginity to him. Although many may see Isabella as selfish for prizing her virginity over her own brother’s life, she may have a legitimate reason to fear this man. For what he expects is unholy in itself.  This play does not stick to Shakespeare’s original story line, but it never lacks in suspense and drama. In a story riddled with challenges and impossible questions, justice and mercy, lust and rationality, religion and government, right from wrong, this play presents the audience with a world that is not unlike the one we live in.  The final scene is filled with love, laughter, and tears and will make you think twice about your choices and what you take for granted in life.  Overall this production was well done and an enjoyable experience for all.