Measure for Measure – by Hayley Hartnett

April 10, 2013 in Blog by Cindy-Bandle-Young-Critics

The dazzling age of the 1970s seems almost the polar opposite to William Shakespeare. Challenge accepted, Robert Falls said with his new production of “Measure for Measure” at the Goodman Theatre. Following the story of a death-sentenced Claudio _ for impregnating his fiancé _ Robert Falls manages to transform the nearly 400-year-old play into the hysterics of the ’70s.

The set for the entirety of the play includes various billboards, graffiti and expletives and definitely amazes the audience, highlighting the era keenly. Yet in scenes such as in the Duke’s office, the signs can be a bit distracting. However, the elaborate decorations definitely emphasize the depravity when discussing brothels and prostitutes. The set artfully captures the crime-ridden Venice _ or New York _ with the various allusions to sex, drugs and alcohol. In addition, the production of “Measure for Measure” highlights the aura of the seventies in the musical allusions, playing quintessential songs such as “Last Dance” and “Love to Love You, Baby”. Along with the alluring set, the music reinforces the grotesque yet intriguing mood of that magical time.

The cast in the play definitely helps add to the uniqueness of the play. Alejandra Escalante beautifully plays the nun sister of Claudio, who is offered the life of her brother in exchange for her virginity. She embodies the moral conflict Isabella faces with her multiple monologues and soliloquies, normally dreadful but here intriguing. By allowing the insight into Isabella’s emotions, the audience is able to truly understand her struggle.
By keeping Shakespeare’s original text, Falls is able to capture the ingenuity of the poet. Yet Falls innovates a new outlook on the old play with a twist ending that captures his artistic spirit. The shock event adds a different depth to the play, altering the end hero into a more real human. All in all, the play, which runs from March 9-April 14, is an enjoyable outing for Shakespeare fans and Donna Summer fans alike.