A modern twist on a Shakespearean classic

Measure for Measure plays at McGill’s Moyse Hall Theatre

theatre review by erica guth

Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure played by McGill University students debuted last Wednesday, and, despite the thick dialogue, the modern twist on the classic was expertly pulled off by a great team of actors and crew.

Measure for Measure is the story of the Duke of Vienna who temporarily gives up his position to Lord Angelo, who is a stern leader with a strong sense of morality. Angelo decides that he needs to clean up the city by shutting down the brothels. He also decides to make an example of Claudio, a man who impregnated his fiancée before they got married.

The story unfolds with many dramatic twists and turns as Claudio’s sister, Julietta, faces a moral dilemma as she attempts to convince Angelo that her brother is not to be harmed.

The production of the play was extremely refreshing, because the crew managed to make Shakespeare modern, but not corny, which is what often happens in that sort of adaptations.

However, the dialogue was not adapted, and the intricacies of the language made it so true Shakespeare that fans could truly stay focused the entire play, because it became very tedious.

Thea Fitz-James as Lucio and Ben Hanff as Pompey stole the show. Neither of them were in leading roles, but as soon as they got on stage, they were in the spotlight.

Fitz-James was enchanting as Lucio. She was hilariously ironic in the role of Claudio’s hedonistic happy-go-lucky friend. Everything about her, including her costume, her use of the space, and her ability to play a man while retaining her feminine qualities, which made it all the more realistic, was entrancing.

As for Hanff, he is a master of witty banter. He managed to make the language seem natural and not at all stiff, which is very difficult to do. He played the role of the lovable rogue perfectly.

Kate Sketchley, as Isabella, also played her role solidly, although there was nothing outstanding about it. She was a good actress who mastered her many long monologues, but she wasn’t outstanding.

Spencer Malthouse, who played the role of the Duke, was very engaging. He made a good Duke, but he really hit his stride when he disguised himself as a friar to watch over Lord Angelo. He was hilariously over-the-top ridiculous.
Julietta and Claudio (played by Emma Fiske-Dobell and Charles Dauphinais) were both solid.

Finally, Angelo, played by Mike Ruderman, was perfectly evil. Ruderman did a great job in portraying his morally rigid yet corrupt character. By the end of the play, he was despicable and hated by everyone, which is a major success for an actor playing a villain.

The set design was perfect, – sparce, which kept the focus on the rich language and the costumes – but with many great little touches, including the set up of the press conference, complete with TV cameras. They managed to not go overboard in trying to make the overall look of the play too modern by throwing in little hints and ironic pieces here and there.

The costumes were also very good, most of them fairly simple, but again managing to throw in little funny twists on the original story.

McGill theatre put on a great rendition of Measure for Measure, but it would be best to go and read the play before going to see it, because the rich text makes it hard to sit through, despite the many talented actors.

The show will run from Nov. 25 to 27, at the Moyse Hall Theatre, 853 Sherbrooke St. West. General admission is $10.00, $5.00 for students and seniors.

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