Review: Measure for Measure

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Shakespeare’s gripping and deeply poignant problem play, Measure for Measure is vividly brought to life by Castle Theatre Company. Director Helena Baker has resurrected the plot of a woman torn between a seemingly impossible moral decision: to be raped or to allow her brother to be executed, into a modern setting. The fact that the plot is deeply pertinent in the era of MeToo is not lost on the production; in fact the transformation of Angelo into a man in a suit whose cruel proposition takes place in his office is a poignant one, given the new face of a sexual predator since the revelation of the MeToo movement. 

The lighting perfectly suits the emotion and tension of the scene

I would first like to credit the technical director, Freddy Sherwood, and the co- producers Aishwarya Balaji and Megan Cooper. The lighting is a triumph. It always perfectly suits the emotion and tension of the scene. Also, the atmospheric mist, settling over the action to create unease, becomes ever more significant when a tortured Isabella compares the loss of her virginity to a pollution. No word of the Shakespeare is lost on the production team. The use of iPhone torches in the hands of the cast, the soundscape of news reporters, and the use of lights to make a prison cell come to life, is indicative of the immense talent of the production team. The costuming is also cleverly thought – out, the dichotomy between the sex worker women and the men who pursue or condemn them is very clear. 

The cast is an incredibly strong one. The performances of Charlie Culley (Isabella) and Etienne Currah (Angelo) are particularly worth noting. Culley’s performance is pristine and professional. She expertly glides to emotional heights and is a wholly convincing and watchable actress. The audience’s eyes are constantly drawn to her. Currah is also a professional talent. Perhaps the most engaging moment in the play is Angelo’s soliloquy in which he is seemingly torn between his lust for Isabella and his sense of moral superiority, and indeed he falls to the former. He commands the stage and delivers a perfect performance. 

She expertly glides to emotional heights and is a wholly convincing and watchable actress

Jack De Deney’s performance begins strongly and only improved over the course of the play. As the disguised Duke, he tests and observes the morality of the other characters with a finely crafted stoicism. He shows great command over his characterisation and has very commendable stage presence. excellently adapts the Shakespearean language to the modern setting has shine as Lucio. He suits the part brilliantly. He dominates the stage when he ought to do so and never leaves character when out of the spotlight. He has great ability and talent, and in this part this comes to fruition.

The tough subject matter is nurtured successfully by the cast and production team combining talent, good directorial decisions and a rich visuality. Indeed, the direction and production appear flawless. I would very much recommend you attend this production at the beautiful Assembly Rooms Theatre, for an evening of moving and inspiring theatre. Indeed, this production, with its expertly wrought emotional climaxes and tension, claws at the heart of every woman in the audience, who can feel at least a portion of what Isabella feels: the scratching pain of unwanted hands upon one’s body, the thudding heart and congealed throat, which the oppressive force of male sexual aggression produces. 

Measure for Measure in being performed again on the 14th and 15th of February at 7:30pm.

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