MEASURE FOR MEASURE
by William Shakespeare.
Shakespeare’s Globe 21 New Globe Walk Bankside SE1 9DT In rep to 17 October 2015.
1pm 5 July, 2 Aug.
2pm 3, 15, 17, 23 July, 5, Aug, 9-12, 29 Sept, 3, 6, 8, 13 Oct.
6.30pm 5 July, 2 Aug.
7.30pm 2, 4, 14, 16, 23, 28-30 July, 4 Aug, 8, 9, 16, 17, 21-23, 28 Sept, 2, 5, 7, 12 17 Oct.
Audio-described 3 Oct.
BSL Signed 12 Sept.
Captioned 17 Sept.
Runs 2hr 50min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7401 9919.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 1 July.
Libidinous fun can o’erflow the measure, but there’s thoughtfulness too.
This problematic play, caught between wild laughter and breathtaking moral obliquity, throws-up ambiguities all round Vienna. No wonder any sense of balance, “measure still for measure”, is set awry by the gap between what people are and what they appear to be. Some form of the word ‘seem’ recurs throughout the play.
The stews of Vienna (chalet-like amid the groundlings) are torn down when a Puritanical takeover occurs, as the Duke, who has let moral laxity grow around him, without himself participating, departs. Dominic Rowan’s Duke sits enthroned, back to the low-life cavortings among the audience, speaking in a voice of youthful uncertainty, contrasting his imposing figure and bright gold costume.
He certainly learns from overlooking city life, and being physically attacked in disguise as a friar. His sole revenge, marrying the impertinent Lucio (a splendidly opinionated Brendan O’Hea), for “slandering a Prince”, to any woman who’ll have him, seems mild.
Ducal lack of awareness is clear as he blithely asks Isabella to marry him. To the Duke, it seems an undoubted honour for her. But Mariah Gale’s Isabella, the novice-nun who’s been propositioned and blackmailed by Angelo (city boss in the Duke’s ‘absence’), finally loses her cool, throwing her head back in disbelief – after all, this would-be husband has just been threatening her with jail.
Strangely, the play’s lovers, James Lailey’s Claudio and Naana Agyei-Ampadu’s Juliet, while the cause of much of the plot, are passive, acquiescent characters, though Agyei-Ampadu is seen silently present in several scenes, a reminder of innate goodness’s lack of power.
Dominic Dromgoole’s production has upfront fun with the comic characters, loudmouthed and provocative, whether it’s Trevor Fox, yet again highly comic in any accent so long as it’s Tyneside, Dennis Herdman’s wealthy but foolish Froth and Petra Massey’s uncontrollable Mistress Overdone. Higher up the scale Paul Rider brings a moment of temper to the usually placid Escalus.
But amid all the noise and fury, it’s the meetings of Kurt Egyiawan’s Angelo, suddenly thrown from his moral high-ground by desire, and the impenetrably reserved Isabella that brings dramatic intensity to balance the theatrical expansiveness elsewhere.
Juliet: Naana Agyei-Ampadu.
Angelo: Kurt Egyiawan.
Pompey: Trevor Fox.
Isabella: Mariah Gale.
Froth/Friar Thomas: Dennis Herdman.
Mariana: Rosie Hilal.
Abhorson/Friar Peter: James Lailey.
Claudio: Joel McCormack.
Mistress Overdone: Petra Massey.
Elbow/Barnadine: Dean Nolan.
Lucio: Brendan O’Hea.
Escalus: Paul Rider.
Duke Vincentio: Dominic Rowan.
Provost: Dickon Tyrell.
Citizens: Will Brdges, Meg Coombs, Ella Cumber, Jack Joseph, Jessie Lilley, Andrew Young.
Director: Dominic Dromgoole.
Designer: Jonathan Fensom.
Composer: Claire van Kampen.
Musical Director: Sophie Barber.
Choreographer: Siân Williams.
Globe associate – Text: Giles Block.
Globe associate – Movement: Glynn Macdonald.
Voice/Dialect: Martin McKellan.
Fight director: Kevin McCurdy.
Assistant director: Alice Malin.