Measure for Measure
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Benedict Andrews
Tis one thing to be tempted, Escalus,
Another thing to fall.
This is a permissive, decaying city with a dysfunctional government, and the Duke has mysteriously gone on leave. In his place he’s appointed a man whose “urine is congealed ice” – the austere moralist Angelo. His first act of law is to apply the death penalty for fornication: Claudio is the first to be condemned. But when Isabella arrives to beg for her brother’s life, her pleas threaten to bring Angelo and the state to their knees.
Measure for Measure is Shakespeare’s great dark comedy about desire and power. His world is familiar: sex is a commodity, government is subject to the leader’s moral whimsy, extreme liberality goes head to head with emergency powers to constrain and punish. And lurking in the shadows of this play is the idea that real wisdom comes from unleashed chaos.
Benedict Andrews was last at Belvoir St in 2007 with his brilliant production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. He’s returned to tackle a play he’s probably born to direct: Shakespeare’s magnificent and explicit meditation on anarchy and authority.
Theatre for the open-minded.