Just to clarify, “Measure for Measure” is a play by a little- known playwright named William Shakespeare and, if you haven’t checked him out yet, you should. Sarcasm aside, hiding behind the glory of works such as “Hamlet,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and of course “Romeo and Juliet,” “Measure for Measure” may be one of the bard’s best plays that nobody knows about.
“Measure” follows a triad of linking stories with main characters Vincento, Angelo and Isabella. The trio goes through a huge predicament that does the title of a Shakespeare “problem play” justice.
The problem is that Duke Vincento is tired of being in the spotlight, so he gives temporary power to his cousin Angelo. However, Angelo uses that power to wrongly put a man to death and will only save him if he can take the virginity of nun-in-training Isabella. Sound complicated? It is.
In the department of drama’s production of “Measure for Measure” which ran from May 1 to 10, director Philip Thompson picked a great cast of actors to bring this bafflingly confusing play to life and to sense. Second-year graduate actors Tyler Seiple as Vincento, Michael Doonan as Angelo and Camelia Poespowidjojo as Isabella took the responsibility of playing the lead roles and didn’t let their director down.
The most powerful scene in the play was between Doonan and Poespowidjojo when Angelo initially attempts to seduce Isabella and offers her brother’s life for her body. At one point Isabella spits on Angelo’s face and stomped away, leaving Angelo to think about what he had done. The remorse in Doonan’s face was believable, yet you could see that he had no self-control and still wanted his lady.
Second-year graduate student Nathan C. Crocker was the comedic relief and had the most memorable scenes in his role as Lucio. From his walk to his demeanor, Crocker’s portrayal of Lucio was reminiscent of Johnny Depp’s role as Jack Sparrow; his role was just as entertaining and just as pompous.
There are many questions that arise from “Measure for Measure,” and Thompson had intended to ask them. He sought to question present-day American politics and called on the audience to explore their “dual lives.”
However, the performance itself caused many questions to be asked. The overall theme of the questions is, what is and isn’t necessary?
Although the set and lighting was absolute eye candy, it sometimes brought too much to the production and detracted from the performances on the stage.
Many of the costumes were over the top while serving a purpose, which made them enjoyable and fitting. The costume of Mistress Overdone, as funny as it was during its first appearance, served as nothing but a distraction as the show went on. Not only did her massive fake rear end get in the way, but the safety of Stephanie Philo walking around with the huge tail in heels was a concern the entire night.
In the end, the drama department’s production of “Measure for Measure” was an enjoyable one. There were holes here and there in the overall product but none of them held the production too far back, leaving the audience feeling satisfied.