Shakespeare is arguably the most popular and critically acclaimed playwright the English language has ever seen. Measure for Measure produced by Theatre Oikos is an attempt to blend old and new. That is, old dialogue combined with a modernistic, ‘improved’ contemporary twist that systematically eschews the original. The Duke is the boss of an organised crime family who temporarily entrusts the care of his firm to Angelo while away on business. The Duke doesn’t travel far, however, observing how the business is run incognito. Unfortunately, owing to the lamentably revamped production, neither wit nor humour was to be found in the first half of the play. Moreover, there were several scenes which employed some very mediocre pop music more reminiscent of a cheesy romantic comedy and served more to confuse and disorient the audience than actually improve the play.
This proved regrettable as the delivery of the lines and overall portrayal of the characters was generally very good. Harry Stopps delivered a solid soliloquy and thoroughly embodied the tyrannical personality of Angelo. Jake Crossley also put in a strong performance as Lucio, witty and full of the Shakespearian double entendres we’ve grown accustomed to. Hannah Dalton arguably produced the best dramatic performance of the night as Isabella, fraught with both internal and external controversies.
Measure for Measure is often times labeled as one of Shakespeare’s ‘problem plays’; the only problem with this performance was the dismembered plot and intermittently abominable music - it was not for lack of effort or skill on the part of the cast. Although there was marked improvement over the course of the hour, it fails to do justice to the classic Shakespearian comedy.