Measure for Measure
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Jon Ciccarelli & Denise Cintron
"Condemn the fault, not the actor of it
Dates: August 7 – 23, 2002
Closing out the summer season of 2002, HSC explored new creative territory be producing one of Shakespeare's problem plays - Measure for Measure. Though, a bit of a simplistic label for a complex play, the term "Problem Play" has stuck because aside 'Measure' and others like it do not fit the usual mode for comedy or tragedy. While the show is inherently a comedy, it deals with such tragic elements and dire consequences, but has a surprise and happy ending. Today, deemed a dark or black comedy, Shakespeare's piece examined the what it meant to forgive, abiding by the letter of the law, what would one do for a sacrifice and the corruption of absolute power. The story of Measure is taken from a bible passage meant to be loosely translated an eye for eye and this is the law that pervades the world of Measure's Vienna. Duke VIncentio (Basil Meola), a rather relaxed ruler decides that something must be done about the state that his Vienna has descended into. An ineffective ruler, he has let laws go without enforcement and feels the time is right to impose a new control, Feeling he and his older head of state Escalus (Robert Handler) cannot handle such a task, the Duke comes up with a scheme to move the rather rigid and inexperienced Angelo into the seat. The Duke conveniently "leaves" the city and has Angelo (Chris Van Dijk) in charge and make sure to enforce rule in his absence. The Duke meanwhile, disguises himself as a monk to keep an eye on things.
Angelo takes to his job like a fish to water and relishes in his new found power, believing he is doing the right thing. Brothels close, thieves are caught such as the pimp Pompey (Leticia Diaz) and are put to use in the jail and a young man Claudio (Richard Sabine) is arrested for impregnating his fiancé Juliet (Diana Hawthorne). Since they were not married at the time, Angelo enacts a blue law that dictates death for such an offense. Word is sent to Claudio's sister Isabella (Jane O'Leary), who is studying to become a nun, to go to Angelo and plead for her brother's case. Egged on by Lucio, a local cheat (Joesph Fedor), Isabella insists on seeing Angelo and chews him out for his hard line toward her brother. Angelo, asking her to come back the next day to hear his response, is overcome by the power and beauty of this woman. In a scene that forms the heart of the play, Angelo turns the tables on the forceful Isabella by demanding she sleep with him to free her brother. Shakespeare, ever showing himself to be ahead of his time writes a wonderful treat on sexual harassment with this one scene.
Believing that her virtue is more important and that Claudio will sacrifice his life for it, Isabella goes to him and tells Angelo's reply. Isabella is angered when Claudio doesn't agree. The disguised Duke overhearing the plight decides to finally take action and use his disguise to free Claudio. Gaining assistance from his old aid the palace Provost (Elizabeth Sugarman), the Duke finds an old love of Angelo's Mariana (Jill Rosenthal) and tells Isabella to arrange a time with Angelo to consummate their deal. In the darkness Mariana is switched for Isabella. As their plan is put into place, the Duke gets an earful from the rather boastful Lucio, who claims the practices of Angelo are the Duke's fault. He boasts of knowing the Duke personally and knowing him to be a liar and a cheat. The Duke takes not of this fantastical thug.
After the bed-trick has been accomplished, The Duke decides then to "return" to his palace and calls Angelo to answer Isabella's charge. In the Duke's chamber, the bed-trick of Marianna is revealed, though Angelo denies it and Isabella's story. The Duke announces he was disguised all along so he knows Angelo is lying. He condemns him to marry Mariana or suffer death. As the two are married, Claudio is presumed dead, however, has been saved and he and his fiancé Juliet are brought together in the final scene. As Lucio tries to make a break for it, the Duke mentions their conversation and says he punish Lucio severally unless he marries one of his prostitute clients. The final pairing comes when the Duke, taken with Isabella's courage in confronting Angelo and an uncertain outcome, asks if she would be his wife. Isabella agrees, seeing that the nun's life she was pursuing wasn't suited best suited for her. In a series of near fatal episodes, peppered with comic subplots, Shakespeare provides a commentary on justice, mercy, the law and the responsibilities that go with it.
Show pictures to follow.
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