‘Measure for Measure’ Mixes Serious Undertones with Madcap Charm
Thursday, August 23, 2012 • 6:00am
MADISON, NJ – It’s hard to place William Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure.” Is it a comedy or a drama… or maybe a little of both?
We’ve got the ridiculous Lucio, played to the hilt by Greg Jackson. Jackson is in his 14th season with The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey and brings a totally different dimension to the role. He’s often seen as s serious, solid character. Here, he is pompous and supercilious, exaggerating every word as he attempts to insult the Friar and, ultimately, gets his comeuppance.
Also bringing energy and electricity to the stage is Sean Mahan as Angelo. Hardly a likeable character, Angelo attempts to seduce the fair Isabella in exchange for saving her brother’s life. Erin Partin is superb as the young, innocent sister who is torn between giving in to Angelo and losing her innocence or, on the other hand, seeing her brother die. James Knight is her fearful brother, Claudio.
Bruce Turk is Duke Vincentio, the pivotal character in this fast-moving, complicated tale. He is agile and convincing in his disguise as the Friar who is determined to see justice done. Richard Bourg as Escalus knows exactly how to deliver Shakespeare’s words to solid effect. Katie McNichol brings her pleading beauty to the part of Mariana, Angelo’s spurned lover.
Then we have Raphael Nash Thompson as Pompey and Craig Bazan as Froth, two connivers who lighten the tone of the proceedings at just the right moments. Lindsay Smiling is the stalwart Provost. Darren Matthias is both Friar Thomas and the executioner, with a deadpan delivery in the latter role.
The cast is excellent and delivers in spades, especially under Artistic Director Bonnie Monte’s firm and creative hand. Monte and Brian Ruggaber designed the simple but handsome set, with striking double doors set in dark, mellowed wood that changes with light and shadow. Furniture is deftly moved in and out by the actors for a variety of scenes. Steven Rosen’s lighting is especially stunning in Act II, when shadows fall against a deep wall. Paul Canada’s costumes are a pleasing mix of colorful and outlandish, with more than a hint of fanciful excess, contrasting with drab and ‘serious’ tones. Interludes of music add to the swiftly changing moods and settings.
“Measure for Measure” is a delight on all levels, fast moving and done with flair. Performances continue through Aug. 26. For tickets, call 973-408-5600. The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey is located on the campus of Drew University, 36 Madison Ave. in Madison.
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