The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0531 Monday, 20 March 2000.
Date: Friday, 17 Mar 2000 09:54:59 +1100
Subject: Measure for Measure in Melbourne
I've just reviewed the Melbourne Theatre Company's new production of
Measure for Measure for my theatre site Stage Left. It was the first
time I've seen the play performed and it was an interesting experience.
Shakespeare must have been in a cynical frame of mind when he wrote
this... I thought the text had a lot to say about the foolishness of
enforcing laws that human nature will drive people to break anyway (read
into this a consideration of Prohibition, drug and prostitution laws).
The MTC's set is visually striking, they've gone for a heaven above/hell
below approach. The main stage is a large disc, reminiscent of a manhole
cover, with stairs spiraling down to cells and spiraling up into a
cloud-like structure of white cloth. A large sewer pipe empties from
upstage left into a channel that bisects the disc. Through the channel
flows various fluids that add to the grime and corruption of the city.
Isabella's pure-white dress by the end is badly stained above the hem.
I find the character of the Duke fascinating: how are we meant to take
him? If you analyse his actions in an objective way, he seems both
cowardly and manipulating in abandoning his responsibilities but playing
with people's fates and affections to his own benefit.
Anyway, if you're interested in my full review of the production, you
can read it at http://www.stageleft.com.au.