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‘Measure For Measure’ delivers laughs

Erum Jaffrey
Staff Writer

Trapped in the hands of a ruthless hypocrite, nun Isabella cannot release Lord Angelo’s lustful grip as he groped her body, pleading for Isabella to give up her chastity.

Angelo releases his grip, failing to convince Isabella, as she leaves him shattered and ignites a fury in his unrelenting soul.

The main characters in William Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure” deal with both internal and external conflict surrounded by their own greed, virtues and indicative morals.

Presented by the theater department, the cast thoroughly entertained the audience of 60 with a successful opening night April 24 in Dailey Theatre.

“(‘Measure for Measure’) is classified as a problem play,” director Sean Dillon, associate professor of theater, said. “It’s a comedy according to the books, but it’s got some very serious material in it.”

The serious aspects of the play revolve around the fornication of Claudio (Cody Goss) and his lover Juliet (Jessie Bias), Angelo’s (Daniel Ramirez) lust for Isabella (Mona Lutfi), and the struggle as they each battle it out to save themselves.

Comedic relief is provided by the dueling relationship between Duke Vincentio (Jordan Randall) and Lucio (Steven Forns).

The witty friendship between Froth (Wayne Keller) and Pompey (Frankie DeBerg) also provide some light to the performance’s heavy issues.

“Lucio is a comical character, and the audience is supposed to laugh at him, so it’s all about throwing it on stage,” Forns said.

A short scene with long-term prisoner and hopeless drunkard, Barnardine (Gary Colby) caused the audience to erupt in an ongoing laughter that did not seem to stop until Barnardine exited offstage with a lackadaisical attitude toward his upcoming execution.

In all the chaos between drama and comedy, some balance is needed, and much is provided by the supporting characters of Escalus (Jordan Klomp) and the Provost (Alex Freitas), both of whom work for Angelo.

“I love how subtle the Provost is, and I always thought it was good for the audience to know what was going on through his facial expressions,” Freitas said.

The journey from first script read through to opening night entailed an eight-week process of research and rehearsal for the cast of 20.

“It’s one of Shakespeare’s more lingually challenging plays,” Klomp said. “The language is very academic, but I’d say with the actors we have here especially in the principal roles, it makes sense if you just give it a few minutes to click in.”

Laughter filled Dailey Theatre on opening night, as the audience responded well to the performance.

“The play had great comedic timing,” Andrea Mujica, freshman international business and Spanish major, said. “But the actor’s performances were what made it enjoyable for me.”

Dillon stuck to the script with a traditional approach to the play, including an authentic-looking set, costumes and props resembling early 1600s Vienna, Austria.

A simple set was on display, with two towering silver columns bordering the proscenium and no large moving set pieces. A grand red curtain hung in the background, being partially raised and dropped while revealing a painted backdrop that changed with the different scenes, from the nunnery, to a monastery and a dungeon.

With the support of props and appropriate lighting, set changes were smooth and no intricacy was required.

All the conflicts presented reflect a central theme of judgement, and that parallels with the title “Measure for Measure,” meaning when a person sins, he or she should pay an equal amount of suffering for what he or she has caused.

The title’s true meaning isn’t revealed until the last scene in the play, when the deus ex machina is introduced, typical of Shakespeare’s plot style.

“(This play) seems to say that when we try to legislate peoples’ morality, it is doomed to fail,” Dillon said. “Especially if those who legislate can’t live up to those standards themselves.”

“At the end of the day, we want the audience to feel a connection with the characters and the story and perhaps even think a little bit about how this 400-year-old play reflects and resonates some things in the world around them now,” Dillon said.

Erum Jaffrey can be reached at erum.jaffrey@laverne.edu.

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