Review: Measure for Measure, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse

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Ashley Zhangazha as Angelo in Measure for Measure

Under the beautifully intimate candle light of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse this December, you’ll find Blanche McIntyre’s jocose production of Measure for Measure.

Usually perceived as one of Shakespeare’s more ‘problematic plays’, McIntyre has taken its original label of comedy and rolled with it. Taking a somewhat dark script and making it, once again, humorous.

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Hattie Ladbury as Duke

Set in the 1970s, which includes the fashion, the cast encapsulates the era incredibly well while portraying the dark tale. With clever plot mechanisms that acknowledge the despair and poverty, you wouldn’t be amiss to compare it to the ‘bent copper shows’ of the decade. Characters like the hopeless executioner, the drunk prisoner on death row, Barnadine, and the likeable, yet incompetent officer, Provost, bring programmes like Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes and The Sweeney to mind.

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Despite being a story that explores the ideas of sex, power and deceit, the slapstick humour of the 70s masks this. A welcome change from the other productions, the comedy does occasionally leave some of more moving performances, such as Georgia Landers’ wonderful portrayal as the wronged nun, Isabella, in the dust.

Other standout performances came from, most notably, Hattie Ladbury as a female Duke and the Friar. Another being Eloise Secker as the incredibly moving Mariana and hilarious Pompey and, as mentioned before, Georgia Landers’ brilliant portrayal as Isabella is genuine and emotional as she captures the despair of sexual harassment and bribery. A cloud that seems to have not lifted far into the 70s and, sadly, still resonates now.

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Eloise Secker as Mariana with Georgia Landers as Isabella

The perfect remedy for a dark, winter’s night, Blanche McIntyre’s unexpectedly funny production of a Measure for Measure kept us grinning throughout with its warm, jovial humour. Highly recommend.

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