The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1279  Wednesday, 16 June 2004

From:           Graham Hall <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Tuesday, 15 Jun 2004 20:53:42 +0000
Subject:        Measured Response

Measure for Measure currently at the Olivier (London) gets off with an
early fellatio then things start to really go down. Sitting in his
Captain's chair during an early interview with Isabella, Angelo is
propelled, contrary to Newtonian Physics, across the room by the force
of his erection. "What's this? What's this?" (TLN 926) he cries,
rummaging in the bowels of his groin. Finding no satisfactory answer he
forces her hand inside his unzipped fly at the subsequent interview, in
the hope one assumes, that she'll be able to tell him. He then slashes
his badly scarred (left!) arm with a razor. So we deduce that whereas
he's clearly mad as a hatter he's not stupid. As by this time Isabella
is dressed more like a sixth former than a novice we are denied the
frisson of religion and sex coming (as it were) together.

There are more gizmos in this production than were spread round the
surface of Mars by the "Beagle". TV's, stage microphones, video screens,
live cameras, projectors, walkie-talkies, helicopters, music
synthesizers etc etc and they all tediously detract one's attention from
the play proper. As does Bernardine who delivers in a cod French accent
but liberally sprinkles his dialogue with such well-known
Shakespeareanisms as "Auf Wiedersehen" and "du Scheisse" and Elbow who,
costumed like a dishevelled traffic warden manages the class of Italian
accent that sells pasta during television commercials. Buckets of
whores' and prisoners' piss being sloshed down an open drain also tend
to turn the eye from the main event. But as the pornographic film shown
in the brothel seemed out of focus this did not prove to be as
distracting as otherwise might have been the case.

President Bush does indeed appear on the screens at "sanctimonious
Pirate" (TLN 103) which gets a large cheap laugh (the text having an
additional helpful "There he is" inserted in case you miss the satire).
However, the screens remain blank at the multiple lines within the text
where a few of the world's more virulent current oppressors, killers,
robbers and rapists might have been given similar footage. This omission
stuck me as being an appropriate metaphor for this whole uneven and
dreadful travesty of a production.

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