Measure for Measure
Academics classify Measure for Measure as one of Shakespeare’s “problem plays” (i.e., it’s one that you don’t often find on the summer outdoor circuit). Set in a decadent world full of liars and dissemblers (where even the good guys engage in a bit of deceit), Measure for Measure is technically a comedy, but not the tidy kind.The somewhat convoluted plot hinges on Isabella (a young woman entering a religious order), whose brother is sentenced to death … for getting his girlfriend pregnant. When Isabella pleads that the penalty is too severe, the outwardly strict (and inwardly corrupt) ruler Angelo discretely offers her a dirty deal: sex for pardon—your body for his life.
Director Randy Symank locates his production in modern times. Sex workers blatantly peddle their services, policemen make halfhearted arrests and business goes on. Equity actor Tim Orr (seen at Foothill Theatre and Capital Stage) does well as the Duke, who turns his authority over to Angelo and goes underground (disguised as a monk) to discover what’s really happening. Worried by the corruption he finds, the Duke sets a secret plan in motion to put things straight.
Symank manages the large cast and many scene changes well. His only faulty move is the addition of several generic pop songs, bringing the story to a momentary halt, while adding little to the show.