If you are familiar with the cast's previous work, it's likely no surprise that I chose to spend the first paragraph praising the competence of the verse. It struck me that if Shakespeare gave you superpowers the cast would form the Avenger's Wellington branch.
David Lawrence plays the duplicitous Duke with a vulnerability I was not expecting from the role, seeming genuinely concerned at his citizen's opinion of him. Ania Upstill's Isabella is constant; a crafted performance with graceful shifts between emotions and honest reactions without an ounce of needless earnestness; a common pitfall of full performance nuns. Angelo in this production is rendered in full 3D by James Cain, whose athletic range fully straddles the breadth of the character’s arc, leaning into the corners of the character’s contradictions.
Keegan Carr Fransh was a stand out in her role as Provost, the Jailer. An incredibly grounded stage presence weighed the increasingly complex plot down to earth. It creates a foil for the schemes of the other characters and creates a compass in case the audience becomes lost between the lines.
The scenographic has a strong emphasis on blues and reds reflecting the collision of virtue and vice. The palette is successfully woven through the wall dressings and costumes. A favourite was the bold decision to put the prisoners in red gowns.
An interesting decision is the use of shadow cut portraits on the wall to serve as reference points for the actors to signify which offstage characters they are talking about. Practically used elements like this sing. However, while the cupboard cum throne is well erected it seems odd that it is on stage for the whole play without having a purpose until the final act. A few other loose ends, such as the wrinkled wall dressings and the visibility of the wheels of the table could have been addressed, but don’t overly detract from the otherwise crisp production.
Measure for Measure is known academically as one of Shakespeare's "problem plays", neither entirely tragic, like King Lear nor completely comic ala Much Ado Da Ba De Da Ba Di. Do not, however, assume that it sits in the middle. In this production you will see a great figure fall from grace hand in hand with a farcical plot and more marriages than might seem necessary. As such it is more seldom performed than the standard repertoire fair, making it a treat for those after a more than usual Shakesperience.