Measure for Measure review – Shakespeare's problem play gets a 1970s makeover

Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, London
There are strong performances in this tale of sex, power and morality reimagined by director Blanche McIntyre

If there is a #MeToo moment in Shakespeare’s oeuvre, Blanche McIntyre’s production shows it to be inside this problem play’s exploration of sex, power, morality and double standards in leadership.

“To whom should I complain?” says the novice nun, Isabella, after Angelo presents his monstrous bargain – her virginity in exchange for her imprisoned brother’s life. And when she threatens to tell the world what kind of governor he is, he throws back: “Who will believe thee?”

Her words – and his – chime with current conversations on male sexual predation, the price of calling it out and questions around consent. McIntyre transposes the drama to a seedy 1970s London which rages with sex, corrupt governance and puritanical hypocrisies. A power cut early on gestures towards the three-day week, but little on James Cotterill’s minimal set builds a portrait of the city.

Georgia Landers is clear-eyed and heroic as Isabella; the bargain with Angelo is a strong scene in which she appears horrified yet defiant. But as a play with several sharp plot-turns and tricky balances between darkness and light, the comedy feels too drawn out here. Some scenes have flashes of Benny Hill and Carry On, with half-clad men tumbling out of Mistress Overdone’s brothel in psychedelic underpants. Mistress Overdone herself (Ishia Bennison) has more than a touch of Barbara Windsor. There is a rogue dildo, too, and amid the nuns and friars, it all steers close to looking like a retro gathering of “tarts and vicars.”

The period detail is delightful nonetheless, from Burt Bacharach style muzak to Angelo’s once-betrothed, Mariana, who in an empire-line dress looks like one of David Hockney’s swimming pool figures.

The production as a whole feels static, its pacing a little flabby, but the cast give strong performances: Ashley Zhangazha’s severe, unbending Angelo shows how quickly power corrupts. Eloise Secker, who plays several characters including Pompey and Mariana, delivers deadpan wit sublimely.

It is the women who hold the moral rectitude here, and the ultimate power: Escalus (Bennison, doubling up brilliantly) and Vincentio are gender-switched. Hattie Ladbury, as the Duke, is both stately and mischievous in her disguise as the friar. This latter reversal also makes her wedding proposal to Isabella more progressive, with its lesbian overtones, and the nun’s final pause is all the more pregnant.

• At the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, London, until 15 January.

News Related


Zweiter Sieg in Folge für den SCB - Ajoie verliert weiter

© KEYSTONE/ANTHONY ANEX Der SCB bleibt auf Erfolgskurs. Zwei Tage nach dem Heimsieg gegen Servette bezwingen die Berner vor heimischen Publikum auch Meister Zug. Am Dienstag hatte Bern nach acht ... Read more »

Biden warned Ukraine's president Kiev could be ‘sacked' by imminent Russian invasion

© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved Biden – Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved President Joe Biden gave a frank and dire assessment of the ... Read more »

Katie Price and Carl Woods are spotted at fertility clinic after sharing plans for first baby together

KATIE Price and Carl Woods have been spotted at a London fertility clinic just days after revealing she wants baby number six this year. The pair held hands as they ... Read more »

Boris Johnson ‘wobbling' on National Insurance rise as he fuels speculation it may be ditched

© POOL/AFP via Getty Images boris-johnson.jpg Boris Johnson is “wobbling” on the planned National Insurance rise, it has been reported after he again fuelled speculation he could scrap the hike ... Read more »

Katie Price's daughter Princess, 14, reveals she didn't want to live in mum's Mucky Mansion after ‘heartache'

KATIE Price's daughter Princess revealed she didn't want to move back to her mum's Mucky Mansion as it was full of “heartache” and bad memories. The 14-year-old got stuck into ... Read more »

Guimaraes set for Newcastle medical on Friday ahead of £33m move

© Associated Press Bruno Guimaraes is set to have a medical ahead of a move to Newcastle Bruno Guimaraes is set to undergo a medical on Friday ahead of completing ... Read more »

The Apprentice fires another candidate in what Lord Sugar calls "the worst failure" he's seen

The Apprentice spoilers follow. The Apprentice continued on BBC One tonight (January 27), which meant getting rid of another contestant who desperately wants to be Lord Sugar’s newest business partner. ... Read more »

How to evolve Qwilfish into Overqwil in Pokémon Legends: Arceus

© Provided by Dot Esports Water-type Pokémon have received a few new additions in Pokémon Legends: Arceus—and one of them is Overqwil. The Pokémon is a new evolution for Qwilfish ... Read more »

Taylor Lautner recalls feeling 'scared' to go outside

© Bang Showbiz Taylor Lautner felt scared of going out at the height of his fame Taylor Lautner felt “scared” to go outside at the height of his fame. The ... Read more »

Valve improves VRS control to boost Steam Deck battery life

© Provided by Dot Esports Valve’s Steam Deck will ship on Feb. 25, but the company is still working to make its handheld debut a win with early adopters via ... Read more »

Biden's high court pledge shows growing power of Black women

© Provided by Associated Press FILE – Judge J. Michelle Childs, who was nominated by President Barack Obama to the U.S. District Court, listens during her nomination hearing before the ... Read more »

Burnley facing a £60m hit if they are relegated from Premier League

Burnley face a £60million blow if they are relegated from the Premier League, as a result of a loan that financed the club’s takeover last year. Sportsmail has learned that ... Read more »

Kuwaiti poet says ‘embrace Jews without having a political agenda'

© (photo credit: REUTERS/HAMAD I MOHAMMED/FILE PHOTO) FILE PHOTO: Kuwait The Kuwaiti poet and writer Nejoud Al-Yagou urged on January, 17 in an eye-popping article that Kuwaitis embrace Jews and ... Read more »

COVID-19 vaccine rules for organ transplants are about aiming for ‘best possible outcome': experts

There appears to be growing consensus among Canadian organ transplant specialists about requiring COVID-19 vaccination for patients looking to be placed on the wait-list for an organ donation. Why? It’s ... Read more »

Associate of Nafiz Modack charged with corruption, fraud and money laundering

A person alleged to have had a corrupt relationship with murder accused Nafiz Modack has been arrested — and his name will be added to the charge sheet of those ... Read more »

Ukraine: Biden, Zelenskyy talk de-escalation with no end to tension in sight

© Provided by DW Despite efforts, multiple talks on Ukraine have stalled US President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy shared a phone call in which they discussed de-escalation ... Read more »

Don't Tell The Bride's ‘worst ever' Vegas wedding couple reveal they split after just 9 months – when HE dumped HER

DON'T Tell The Bride has checked back in with its most infamous couple after their disastrous Las Vegas wedding 12 years ago. Unsurprisingly, Groom Simon and bride Kayleigh are no ... Read more »

Apple's iPhone 13 led to its largest revenue and profit in history, despite parts shortages

Apple’s  iPhone marked its 15th year on the market with its strongest sales ever, helping push tech giant’s sales and profits to all-time highs despite the continued spread of the coronavirus pandemic ... Read more »

Hang on to your hats: Breyer's retirement sets up a bumpy confirmation battle

President Joe Biden aims to quickly replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer before midterm elections. AP Photo/Andrew Harnik Well, Justice Stephen Breyer announced his retirement — or, to be ... Read more »

NASA aims to make observations from space junk collision with Moon

© Laurent EMMANUEL The impact of a SpaceX rocket chunk weighing four tons will not be visible from Earth in real time NASA said Thursday it aims to survey the ... Read more »

Paul Rudd Joins Seth Rogen for Lay's First Super Bowl Commercial in 17 Years — See a Teaser

Seth Rogen‘s got and old friend joining him for Lay’s upcoming Super Bowl spot. PEOPLE can exclusively announce that Paul Rudd, reigning Sexiest Man Alive, will be appearing alongside his ... Read more »

Trading app Robinhood sinks 11% in after-hours trade after posting loss

Robinhood reported a net loss of $423 million or $0.49 per share in the three months ended December 2021. AFP via Getty Images Robinhood shares dropped some 11% in after-hours ... Read more »

Florida man with same name, age as fugitive mistakenly locked up for 5 days

Leonardo Silva Oliveira, who has the same name and is the same age as a fugitive wanted on probation violations, was arrested outside of the restaurant where he works. AP ... Read more »

Bhumi Pednekar on Badhaai Do: It's a celebration of love, accepting oneself and overcoming fears

© Provided by Pinkvilla Bhumi Pednekar is all set to entertain the audience with comedy-drama Badhaai Do alongside Rajkummar Rao. The movie’s trailer has taken the internet by storm and ... Read more »

Fallen NYPD officer saved 5 lives with organ donation, organization says

A New York Police officer who died days after a brutal shootout in Harlem saved five lives after his organs were donated, according to LiveOnNY, the organization that helped facilitate ... Read more »

Study faults U.S. military on civilian casualties; Pentagon plans review

By Phil Stewart © Reuters/Jason Reed FILE PHOTO: An aerial view of the Pentagon building in Washington, June 15, 2005. [U.S. Defense Secretary Donald.. WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A study by ... Read more »

Stormy Daniels testifies on Michael Avenatti: 'He lied to me and betrayed me'

Stormy Daniels, an adult-film actress who was allegedly defrauded by Michael Avenatti, testified Thursday in federal court as part of the criminal trial against the celebrity attorney. © Drew Angerer/Getty ... Read more »

Letters to the Editor — Jan. 28, 2022

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (left), Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (center) and other Albany lawmakers are opposed to Mayor Adams request to amend the bail reform laws. AP The Issue: ... Read more »

Lucille Ball's daughter didn't want Javier Bardem to play Desi Arnaz at first because she thought he was 'too big' and 'too magnificent'

© Provided by INSIDER Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball with daughter Lucie Arnaz (left); Javier Bardem playing bongos (right). Bettmann/Getty Images; Rich Fury/Getty Images Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s daughter ... Read more »

Andrew Garfield says he waited to see if Tobey Maguire was going to appear in 'Spider-Man: No Way Home' before signing on

© Columbia Pictures/Sony; Columbia Pictures Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire played Spider-Man in past franchises. Columbia Pictures/Sony; Columbia Pictures Andrew Garfield spoke to Deadline about his decision to suit up ... Read more »

Drama and stark beauty at every turn: readers' favourite winter cycles in the UK and Europe

© Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Cath Evans/Alamy Winning tip: Winding lanes, Northamptonshire I recommend a Northamptonshire countryside route that combines winding lanes bordered by fields, chocolate-box villages, manor houses ... Read more »

This Device Suctions Out Blackheads Like a Vacuum, and the Results Are Oddly Satisfying

At-home skin-care devices can be a great way to maintain professional beauty treatments at home. The Dermaflash Dermapore Pore Extractor and Serum Infuser claims to assist in the removal of ... Read more »

The first planes carrying aid made it to Tonga several days after it was devastated by a tsunami

© Tonga Geological Services/via REUTERS Eruption of the underwater volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai off Tonga. Tonga Geological Services/via REUTERS Military planes filled with aid arrived at Tonga’s airport on Thursday. ... Read more »

Intellect Design Arena records 25% growth in quarterly profits

© Provided by The Times of India Chennai: Fintech enterprise Intellect Design Arena has reported 25% year-on-year growth in profitability for the October-December 2021 period, as net profit stood at ... Read more »

PSEi bucks global downturn as GDP beats forecasts

© STAR/File PSEi bucks global downturn as GDP beats forecasts MANILA, Philippines — A better-than-expected economic performance in 2021 provided the lift in Philippine stock trading yesterday, bucking the downtrend ... Read more »

Abaca output up 9.8%

© STAR/File Abaca output up 9.8% MANILA, Philippines — The production of abaca grew by 9.8 percent in 2021, driven by increased output in the majority of the regions. Data ... Read more »

Leftist leader of ‘antiwork' blows up her own movement with lazy, disheveled interview

Doreen, a moderator for Reddit‘s “antiwork” forum, did a disastrous interview with Jesse Watters on Fox News. Fox News/TheAlmightyJawa/YouTube These are tough days for the “antiwork” crowd. Along with bedsores, ... Read more »

My house is so mouldy I have to sleep on my living room sofa – I'm too embarrassed to have friends over

A MUM'S home is so plagued by mould she is forced to sleep on her living room sofa. Taylor Martin, who shares the damp-infested home with her partner and two-year-old ... Read more »

Belle Mariano shows off musical side in 1st virtual concert

© STAR/ File Belle Mariano shows off musical side in 1st virtual concert Amid her continuous rise in showbiz, Belle Mariano wants you to know that there’s more to her ... Read more »

Family clarifies no 'Picasso NFT' is set to be sold online

GENEVA — Pablo Picasso’s family is not selling a digital asset linked to one of his works after all. After a granddaughter and great-grandson of the artist trumpeted the upcoming ... Read more »
On you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic