Measure for Measure

William Shakespeare

Theatre Oikos

Zoo Southside

From 02 August 2013 to 10 August 2013

Rating: ***

Review by Robin Strapp

Theatre Oikos return to the Fringe for the sixth year with Measure for Measure. This talented young company from Bradfield College has risen to the challenge of presenting Shakespeare’s ‘problem’ play with a vibrant contemporary interpretation directed by Jules Crossly.

The issues it raises do not sit comfortably with a modern audience as it conflicts with today’s moral standards and the role of women in society.

The city of Vienna has been transposed to London’s gangster land and this modern dress production with the lads in leather jackets oozes with male testosterone. It is a perilous, corrupt place with a hedonistic life style. The “Duke”, powerfully played by Harry Gaff, decides to leave the city and appoints his nephew, the virtuous and authoritarian Angelo, strongly performed by Harry Stopps, to govern his underworld empire.

He is determined to bring about change and clean up the patch. His first target is the young Claudio (Piers Darby) who is in love with the pregnant Julietta (Gemma Finegold).

Angelo wants the arm of gangster law to be realised and sentences Claudio to death. His righteous sister Isabella, sensitively played with passion by Hannah Dalton, who is about to enter a nunnery, is forced to plead for his life.

But Angelo finds himself bizarrely attracted to Isabella with some disastrous consequences. His misuse of power and the hypocrisy are sharply focussed.

In the meantime, the “Duke” has secretly disguised himself as a friar and is witness to all the acts of seduction.

There is strong support from a large ensemble cast and, although there were some technical problems on the opening night, this is a well-executed, meaningful and brave production.