MEASURE FOR MEASURE Shakespeare in Delaware Park
Jul 27, 2013, 21:57

Through August 18
MEASURE FOR MEASURE Shakespeare in Delaware Park

By Augustine Warner

Shakespeare wrote for an open-air theater on the South Bank of the Thames and probably dressed the casts in the clothes of the day.
We’re reluctant to do so since that’s…old-fashioned.
Instead, directors update Shakespeare or tinker with him or move the stage events to somewhere else or some when else.
For Shakespeare in Delaware Park, director Brian Cavanagh has moved “Measure for Measure” from Vienna, Austria in some time long ago to Vienna, Texas in the days of the Old West, moving Vincentio (Matt Witten) from duke to sheriff.
Cavanagh tosses in a lot of music from classic Westerns TV and big screen, as well as a lot of Western songs and a lot of Shakespearean jokes, P Yorick Mercantile or Wells-Fargo with a corporate motto of “All The World’s a Stagecoach.”
It actually works pretty well, with only a few clangers.
Some times, it can be a little implausible, like the sheriff’s jail having a basement and then a cellblock even further into the ground.
Most sheriffs probably were lucky if they had stone or brick walls.
Sheriff Vincentio is bored with his job and decides to go on the road, leaving his deputy, Angelo (Patrick Moltane), and his buddy, Escalus (Steve Petersen), in charge.
The sheriff believes his Deputy is a good man and trustworthy.
He isn’t.
Soon, with the sheriff still among the missing the deputy is suppressing the bars and brothels and using his iron fist to make the community the way he wants it.
There’s also the problem of Claudio (Brian Zybala) who has made Juliet (Kathryn Sands) pregnant and faces execution for it and Angelo plans to go ahead.
Isabella (Susan Drozd), Claudio’s sister, is a novice nun who leaves her cloistered convent to plead for her brother’s life.
Angelo falls in lust with her and says he will stall her brother’s execution if she sleeps with him.
What messes up his plans is that the sheriff is actually around, disguised as a friar who everyone treats respectfully because of his brown robes without asking many questions.
No one seems to notice this friar who always seems to be in the right place at the right time.
He starts sabotaging his Deputy while spreading word the Sheriff still isn’t coming back.
When Isabella shows up to sleep with the Deputy, it’s really Mariana (Diane Curley) who was once engaged to him but he pulled out of the relationship when her dowry went down at sea.
In the solution, Claudio escapes death and winds up with Juliet and the Deputy has to marry Mariana to escape awful punishment for his deeds in power.
Shakespeare did love to wind up with multiple weddings.
Even the Sheriff winds up with a wife, in this case Isabella.
Without being completely familiar with “Measure for Measure,” I think Cavanagh did some cutting here and there to help make it work.
Actually it does, although when you hear the music for “The Magnificent Seven,” you are reminded of the mythology of the West that Cavanagh is tapping into.
The best you can do is just go with it, ride your palamino into Vienna, Texas and watch what’s happening, as long as you aren’t engaged in any activity the Deputy doesn’t approve of.
Besides some strong work from Witten, there’s also Lucio’s comic turn from Zak Ward, Curley’s relatively small rose as Mariana, Drozd’s Isabella and Moltane’s well-dressed and iron-backed Angelo.
There’s also some nice singing from Sheila Connors as Madame Overdone.
Measure for Measure has a nice set design from Cavanagh and those town signs from Chris Schenk.
As I said, get on your horse, lubricate your spurs and ride into town.

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