HOME | BOOMERAMA | TRAVEL | EATS & DRINKS | THEATRE | MUSIC | ISSUES | HEALTH | NESTS & NEST EGGS | BOOKS | FASHION | ART & MUSEUMS

HOME > THEATRE > THEATRE ARCHIVES 2010 >

 

Above left: Robin McLeavy and Arky Michael.

Above right: Robin McLeavy and Toby Schmitz.

Images: Heidrun Lohr

Measure for Measure

Company B | Belvoir Street Theatre, Surry Hills, Sydney | Until 25 July

Boy, does Benedict Andrews love a mess. After the glittering, ash-strewn, blood-spitting, flour-tossing War of the Roses, Andrews has once again brilliantly directed Shakespeare for the 21st Century — visceral, sensual and chaotic, with lots of cleaning up to do afterwards.

Vincentio, Duke of Vienna (Robert Menzies) takes leave from his duties and appoints the moralistic Angelo (Damon Gameau) to rule in his absence. Angelo takes the opportunity to instate the most severe penalty for fornication — death. Why was I reminded of Tony Abbott just then?

Claudio (Chris Ryan) is the first to fall victim to Angelo’s law, and awaits his fate in prison. His sister, novitiate nun Isabella (Robin McLeavy) goes to Angelo to plead for a pardon. Angelo’s prudish façade crumbles under the weight of his desire for Isabella.

Unbeknownst to all, the Duke has disguised himself as a friar and is observing the unravelling of the state. As negotiations, exchanges and deception abound, the Duke returns to regain control ... but under his own, not exactly altruistic, conditions.

In a production full of standout performances, every actor deserves credit for their skill, energy and total commitment. Those already mentioned are superb, most notably Gameau’s sleazy, impassive Angelo and McLeavy’s desperate Isabella.

Two actors in particular put themselves “out there” with astounding bravery. Toby Schmitz’s dodgy, disingenuous Lucio is a delight — and he manages to do things with a lily I never thought possible. Colin Moody as the prisoner Barnadine single-handedly wreaks havoc in the most electric, terrifyingly unhinged scene in the entire production.

Ralph Myers’ set design is extraordinary. Initially, the sterile, bland motel room with glassed-in, fully functioning bathroom seems limiting for the range of scenes to come. It’s not. A single spin, and the action is transported. Myers credits the audience with the capacity to view the multiple possibilities within a single structure.

The use of video throughout adds a disturbing power. Actors take turns wielding handheld cameras. The close-up images flicker to surveillance-style ceiling and mirror cameras, adding a darkly detached presence. Large screens on either side of the space capture the actors’ every nuance of emotion. And the video of the final moments ... well, I won’t spoil it, but it fair took my breath away.

The synopsis describes Measure for Measure as “theatre for the open-minded” — and certainly Andrews’ take on Shakespeare’s final comedy is frequently confronting. It’s also the most exciting theatre I’ve seen this year, and is my current forerunner for best production of 2010.

Don’t miss it.

CLICK HERE to email Oz Baby Boomers with a comment regarding this play or review.

HOME | BOOMERAMA | TRAVEL | EATS & DRINKS | THEATRE | MUSIC | ISSUES | HEALTH | NESTS & NEST EGGS | BOOKS | FASHION | ART & MUSEUMS

HOME > THEATRE > THEATRE ARCHIVES 2010 >