If I must die, I will encounter darkness as a bride

Measure For Measure – Review

The Rose theatre on Bankside is a simple construction which houses the archaeological remains of the first theatre built on Bankside (c.1586-7). Not the easiest of places then to stage a Shakespeare production. The Rose has no auditorium, just a smallish viewing platform constructed above the theatre’s foundations. This serves as the stage, with the audience sprinkled in chairs around its edges. Measure For Measure, Shakespeare’s play about the hypocritical Angelo, placed in temporary charge of a corrupt Vienna by a Duke who wishes to observe society in disguise, is often regarded as a problematic play. However director Brice Stratford handles the challenge with ease.

This production is, by turn, laugh out loud funny, disturbing, thought-provoking, cynical, and even occasionally whimsical. Devoid of props, aside from chains used in the prison scenes, Stratford’s production relies entirely on compelling performances from the cast and on the audience’s imagination. In this it has much in common with original Elizabethan theatrical performance. Mistress Overdone, the play’s comic prostitute, is beautifully played by Elizabeth Bloom, who chats and flirts with the audience, and serves as a entertainingly cynical contemporary commentator on the action. Dan Van Garrett’s Angelo is thoroughly mesmerising; dark and violent, yet undoubtedly human. Thomas Vilorio’s delightful delivery and affable charm as the bungling humorous Lucio, who slanders the Duke and weaves in and out of the action, is a genuine highlight of the play. Brice Stratford takes on the role of Vincentio in a measured and very accomplished performance, and Suzanne Marie plays Isabella with an enthusiastic professionality which although occasionally feeling rather over-stretched, is nevertheless convincing. Jeremy Smith’s Clowne is witty and highly enjoyable, and Otis Waby’s condemned Claudio is moving and sympathetic. As an ensemble, the cast has an holistic integrity which makes for a seamless and cleverly authentic production. By teasing out the high comic elements of Measure For Measure, Brice Stratford exposes the darker moral undertones of the play, and this contrast is at times startling; the attempted rape scene for example, is handled particularly well.

If you’re not a fan of intimate theatre this production may perhaps prove a challenge, but if you want to experience intelligent, lively, and genuinely interactive theatrical performance in a haunting historical setting, then hie thee hither along to the Rose.

Runs until 4th December.
The Rose Bankside

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7 Comments

  • November 26, 2011 - 6:11 pm | Permalink

    I would like to nominate you for a Liebster Blog award in recognition of your informative posts. Full details are posted on my blog.

  • N_Caplan
    November 14, 2011 - 2:02 pm | Permalink

    I was there last night and absolutely loved the production. Laugh out loud funny despite the flaws of the venue.

    Tracy Batten, are you the same Tracy Batten that works at the Rose theatre and did that talk at the end?

    (unprofessional bias much?)

  • November 14, 2011 - 8:29 am | Permalink

    I would love to see this production. The theater sounds fantastic and worth a visit in itself. I think I will love Measure for Measure. So thanks for the review and can we have more please. A really well written piece.

  • David Spurs
    November 11, 2011 - 5:07 pm | Permalink

    I also have to completely disagree with anonymous`s comment, I found Marie’s performance to be compelling, moving and very well thought through. Her character was well developed and passionate, with fantastic comic timing, something that many who tackle this role struggle to acquire wholly. Me thinks you do not know much about Shakespeare, the complexity of his characters, this play or indeed good acting! Pity. However measure for measure is spectacular and well worth a watch.

  • Tracy Batten
    November 11, 2011 - 3:55 pm | Permalink

    I thought all the cast were fantastic, I feel the remark made by anonymous,” although entitled to their opinion “
    Feels like a personal attack, on an actress that has received very good reviews. And quite frankly if they haven’t got the courage to state their name!!! Then should should have made no remark at all. Suzanne Marie is a convincing Isabella, she portrays the character with aplomb, and with the contrast of the comical element to the production, the attack scene with both Isabell and Angelo is very dark and convincing. I would throughly recommend anyone see this production.

  • Anonymous
    November 9, 2011 - 3:59 pm | Permalink

    I agree! Great! :)
    Although, if there was one thing that brought the production down for me it was Suzanne Marie’s performance as Isabella. That was a bit embarrassing. :-/
    But otherwise it was really exciting!

  • November 9, 2011 - 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Great review and spot on. I was there and agree 100%.

  • Comments are closed.

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