Goodman Theatre Presents MEASURE FOR MEASURE Review — Shakespeare’s Vienna Meets Times Square

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MEASURE FOR MEASURE

In 2013, Goodman Theatre’s Artistic Director Robert Falls took Measure for Measure out of Shakespeare’s imagined Vienna and set it down in 1970s New York City. Goodman is now streaming that production as part of its Encore series through May 9th.

Much has happened culturally in the eight years since the stage production. Visually, the setting brings to mind the recent HBO series The Deuce and its evocation of Times Square’s raunchy sex trade circa 1972. Under blinking neon signs, prostitutes in lace-up boots, pimps in floppy suits, and cops with very big mustaches go about their business in this dark Shakespearean comedy.

Since Goodman, like every other institution, could not predict the pandemic shutdown, the video recording was probably intended for archival purposes. You too may find that the Intimate scenes translate effectively while the group scenes tend to get lost in scattered light pools and swathes of darkness.  Fortunately, MEASURE FOR MEASURE has a string of two-person encounters in its first half that pack a punch.

ME TOO Evoked in MEASURE FOR MEASURE

The Duke of Vienna (James Newcomb) has let his city fall into decadence. Turning authority over to Lord Angelo, a rigid moralist, the Duke bids his staff farewell and then, disguised as a priest, stays around to observe and eventually manipulate what occurs under Angelo’s rule. 

Isabella, a novitiate, learns that Angelo has condemned her brother Claudio to death for getting his girlfriend pregnant, a violation of Vienna’s previously unenforced law against fornication. Isabella goes to Angelo to plead for his life. Attractive and virtuous Isabella (played by Alejandra Escalante) also possesses savvy and eloquence. Alas, these qualities fail to stir Angelo’s mercy and instead excite his hormones. Reminding us that Me Too is a recent response to an old injustice, Angelo makes an offer: Sleep with him and he’ll spare her brother’s life. Angelo, (performed by Jay Whittaker), simply cannot use human emotions for anything other than power-fueled hypocrisy. 

MEASURE FOR MEASURE
MEASURE FOR MEASURE

Goodman Theatre Production’s Additions

Measure For Measure is commonly called one of Shakespeare’s problem plays, partly because the Duke uses questionable tactics to push everyone towards a contrived ending. In this viewer’s opinion, Falls’ additions do little to make better sense of the story. One distraught character puts a gun to his head, another seems to have a cutting disorder, a stabbing incident emerges randomly, a disco dance line suddenly breaks out. Overall, though, the excellent cast—and especially the finely wrought performances by Escalante and  Whittaker--hold steady even when the concept struggles to keep a plausible beat. 

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CAST:

KATE  LOCONTI ALCOCER - Mariana
JOHN VICTOR ALLEN - Ensemble
JEFFREY CARLSON - Lucio
AMANDA CATANIA - Ensemble
CELESTE M COOPER - Juliet
ANTHONY DINICOLA - Ensemble
AARON TODD DOUGLAS - Pompey
AMANDA DRINKALL - Ensemble
ISABEL ELLISON - Ensemble
ALEJANDRA ESCALANTE - Isabella
BILLY FENDERSON - Froth
SEAN FORTUNATO - Elbow
JOE FOUST - Cardinal Thomas, Bernardine
LANISA FREDERICK - Ensemble
KEVIN FUGARO - Claudio
CINDY GOLD - Mistress Overdone
QUINTON GUYTON - Ensemble
CAROLYN ANN HOERDEMANN - Ensemble
JOHN JUDD - Escalus
TRAVIS A. KNIGHT - Ensemble
JAMES NEWCOMB - Duke
A.C. SMITH - Provost
DANIEL SMITH - Abhorson
GLENN STANTON - Ensemble
JAY WHITTAKER - Angel

CREATIVE TEAM:

ROBERT FALLS – director
WALT SPANGLER - Scenic Design
ANA KUZMANIC - Costume Design
MARCUS DOSHI - Lighting Design
RICHARD WOODBURY - Original Music & Sound Design
CHARLES LAPOINTE - Wig Design
NEENA ARNDT - Dramaturg
ADAM BELCUORE - Casting
ALDEN VASQUEZ - Production Stage Manager
JAMIE WOLFE - Stage Manager

Note: Picture This Post reviews are excerpted by Theatre in Chicago

WHEN:

Now through May 9

WHERE:

On demand 

TICKETS:

Free

For ticket information, go to Goodman Theatre

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