Tuesday October 17th 2017

“Measure for Measure”

measure112 The Goodman Theatre , over the years, has provided Chicago audiences with new looks at old works. In particular, the classical writings of William Shakespeare. The true Shakespeare enthusiasts tend to dismiss these productions as they shy away from the play that they are used to. On the other hand, younger audiences tend to find this appealing and for the novice audience, seeing Shakespeare, re-imagined, may just get them to explore even further. This being said, the current production of Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure” now on the stage of the larger Albert venue is a delightful romp as re-imagined by director Robert Falls, who has taken us from the 1600’s to New York’s dirty streets of 1970 ( a marvelous set by Walt Spangler representing a time of the sexual revolution, urban flight and an economy that is not living up to what the people had been promised. The story itself is about power by authorities and justice- should it be fair or what serves the politicians best? Think about this and some of the headlines over the past few years and we see that things have not changed much.

The Duke ( marvelously played by James Newcomb) leaves his city and in his place, to handle the day to day operations, he leaves  his deputy Angelo ( deftly handled by Jay Whittaker), who allows his power to take over his personality. During his “power Days” he arrests an innocent man, Claudio ( Kevin Fugaro) and sentences him to execution. Claudio’s sister,Isabella, a novice ( powerful performance by Alejandra Escalante), who is desired by Angelo. He offers to release her brother if she will give her virginity to him, bringing up the question- would giving her virginity to a man she hates to save her brother serve a “greater good”?

Meanwhile, the Duke, not trusting Angelo entirely has posed as a priest ( Shakespeare loves disguising characters and Falls only has him don a collar and glasses to change identity) who gets into the mix and changes the plans of each of the characters. Falls has taken Shakespeare to a Damon Runyonesque level with his street walkers, prisoners, Pimps and unsavory police officers. While it is a different way to tell the story, I found the story to be well told and one that even novices can enjoy and learn from. It is felt that Shakespeare wrote this play as a satire to London at the time of the writing and having the background of New York circa 1970’s works just as well. In fact, it might be better.

The story has twists and turns and The Duke, at the end fixes all the wrongs that have been brought to the population. This is a strong cast of actors, not just in the leading roles, but an ensemble of players that make each character have meaning to the telling of the story:John Judd,A.C. Smith,Joe Foust, Celeste M. Cooper,Jeffrey Carlson( who is a hoot as Lucio, a man about town- great comic timing),  Cindy Gold, Aaron Todd Douglas,Billy Fenderson,  Sean Fortunato, Kate LoConti and Daniel Smith. Each cast member, no matter the size of the role is proficient which is very important to make a production like this work. Yes, there is tragedy, but there is comedy as well and for 2 1/2 hours, you will be mesmerized by the production that Falls has created.measure114

I don’t want to miss any of the tech people who are also instrumental in completing Falls’ mission:  Ana Kuzmanic’s costumes, Marcus Doshi’s lighting, original music and sound by Richard Woodbury make this a vision for eyes and ears and when the culmination of the exposure of all the wrongs is put in its proper place, The Duke leads us in a novel ending to the music of “last Dance” as all our characters begin to dance with each other- a great ending!

“Measure for Measure” will continue at The Goodman, located at 170 N. Dearborn Street through April 14th with performances as follows:

Wednesdays at 2 and 7:30 p.m.

Thursdays at  8 p.m.

Fridays at 8 p.m.

Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m.

Sundays at 2 and 7:30 p.m. ( no 7:30 in April)

Tickets range from  $25-$86 and are available at the box office, by phone at 312-443-3800 or online at www.GoodmanTheatre.org

To see what others say, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to review round-up and click at “Measure for Measure”

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