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Measure For Measure (Young Vic Theatre)

October 14, 2015

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Seen at the aftern
oon performance on 10th October 2015.

The play began with more drama than usual, as a full house was kept waiting for almost half an hour past the scheduled start time. Eventually, stressed director Joe Hill-Gibbens announced that due to the very sudden indisposition of Ivanno Jeremiah, Raphael Sowole (usually Master Froth) would take the role of Claudio as well as his own. This turned out rather well as, script in hand, by his final major scene Mr Sowole managed almost a fully acted performance. His relived cast-mates ensured he received a special and deserved loud round of applause. For any aspiring actors, this is what your “sight reading” classes are for, folks.

So, drama aside, how was the drama? For a “problem play,” there really didn’t seem to be many problems.

Designer Miriam Buether’s “empty stage filled with er, inflatable people” concept was amusing, the prison behind (mostly seen on video) convincing, Nicky Gillibrand’s modern costume designs fitting – the Provost and Monk outfits in particular.

The simplicity allowed the text to flow, the (really quite filthy) jokes landed, and the intrigue built nicely enough to allow the 1 hour 50 without an interval to move swiftly.

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Zubin Varla’s Duke Vincentio manages both “angel and devil” aspects with growing confidence, Tom Edden (Pompey) the comedy from the start, and Romola Garai (Isabella) and Cath Whitefield (Mariana) the deception with a sinister grace.

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Sarah Malin (Escalus) and Paul Ready (Angelo) make a pair of warring bureaucrats credible, while Hammed Animashaun (Provost) makes the most of his lesser official office.

If the ending seems a little too quick, that may have been down to the circumstances of the afternoon. Perhaps a little more time spent on the text, even an interval to allow flagging energy to reinvigorate the funnier closing material, would have been appropriate, but still, it’s a creative approach and worth a look for sure.

 

 

Photographs: credit Keith Pattison, used by kind permission. Showing: (top) Zubin Varla and Paul Ready; (middle) Paul Ready and Romola Garai; (bottom) Natalie Simpson and Zubin Varla.

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