The Stratford Festival’s rendition of “Measure for Measure”, one of Shakespeare’s original “problem plays”, can only be called mediocre at best.
While the drab, lifeless sets at first create an aura of poverty and destitution that may or may not have prevailent in the 17th century Vienna, the lack of variety eventually tires the eyes and begins to mildly irritate the senses. With the lack of color present on stage, one would hope that the actor’s performances would add some color…and one would be unfortunately disappointed.
The acting, again, is no better than mediocre with few exceptions, those being most notably, Vincentio (as Duke and Friar) and Froth, the pudgy board-house owner. The other characters are most obviously unassumed by the actors and are carried through with a sense of distance and unfamiliarity, seldom seen at a festival as prestigious as North America’s largest and arguably best Shakespearian festival. The play carries on for almost 3 hours, and is tempered with boredom (e.
g. Isabella’s laughably unimpassioned speech to Angelo), and momentary spots of humor (e.g. sometimes hilarious exchange between Lucio, a servant to the Duke, and the Duke disguised as a friar. This moment of ironic comedy is certainly one of the play’s highlights, and is a model for many modern humor pieces) which all serve to create a less than enthralling afternoon of “not so high” drama. I will not attempt to explain the plot, as one of the play’s redeeming factors is the suspense created by the soap operatic storyline.
All in all, “MEM” is an average play written by an exceptional writer performed no more than competently by gifted actors, on a boring, uninteresting stage, thus we can equate: The God of Drama – less than an excellent play
——————– = X
Excellent actors – poor performance – poor staging X = Waste of money and time… Do not see this play. If you are truly curious about the nature of this play, save yourself the money, visit the local library’s literature section and read it…the printed word brings out the play’s ironic intricacies far more than this unexciting rendition ever will. So, if you find yourself in a little town called Stratford, pay no attention to an unknown play called Measure for Measure… instead, take a walk on the banks of the Avon and enjoy what nature has to offer…