"Measure for Measure" (Goodman Theatre): Extreme and Sensational!

"Measure for Measure" (Goodman Theatre):  Extreme and Sensational!

This show grabbed me from its shocking opening and held me until its startling conclusion.

Goodman Theatre presents MEASURE FOR MEASURE.  The Duke departs his city in a flourish only to return in disguise as an Irish priest.  The Duke is doing a personal internal investigation of his staff.  He fears corruption.  And he finds it.  Claudio has been arrested.  He has impregnated his fiancé and he is sentenced to die.  The Duke’s Deputy, Angelo is the instigator of the harsh punishment.  Angelo is willing to consider a reprieve if Isabella, Claudio’s sister and a novice nun, has sex with him. Isabella is in anguish over saving her brother’s life. Someone is going to get f#cked.  Is it Isabella or Claudio?  MEASURE FOR MEASURE is Shakespeare’s dramatic comedy twisted for your pleasure.

The curtain rises and Walt Spangler’s set stuns as a gaudy showpiece.  The gritty and vibrant multi-leveled alley promises triple X action with dicks and clits.  Graffiti and neon signage is plastered everywhere.  The look is totally outrageous!  And it’s not just the backdrop. The huge cast is getting busy.  There is groping, stroking, bumping in every nook of the stage and cast.  It’s an orgy fest!  I feel like a totally perv as I watch the hookers and johns screw.  What an opening!  If you thought “Camino Real” was scandalous, gapers’ warning.  Director Robert Falls colorfully places us in NYC in 1970s.

Falls is the master of innovation and he proves it in this show. His directorial choices effectively shuttle in cast and scenery, sometimes quickly and sometimes in slow motion. But always in a big way! In the lead, James Newcomb (Duke/Father) plays arrogant ruler or bumbling priest with zest.  Newcomb engages the audience with his farcical conspiracy.  The target of his deception, Jay Whittaker (Angelo) is outstanding.  Whittaker delivers the malice and humor with perfect timing.  His ability to instantly stop the drama to bring the comedy is impressive.  And threatening to steal every scene he is in, Jeffrey Carlson (Lucio) is hilarious as a big-talking townie.  The wise-cracking Aaron Todd Douglas (Pompey) even breaks the fourth wall to do a topical sidebar on the Shakespearean text. Douglas is a hoot! The whole show is a balance between serious and playful. The entire talented cast tells this story in a visual and provocative way! The bittersweet finale, led by Choreographer/Dance Captain Kate LoConti, ensures you leave the theatre humming AND somber.

Everything about this show is extreme and sensational, which would follow The Bard’s original intention of exploiting political corruption and morality fraud.  MEASURE FOR MEASURE captivates minute by minute for its bawdy originality.

Running Time:  Two hours and forty minutes includes an intermission

At Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn

Written by William Shakespeare

Adapted and directed by Robert Falls

Wednesdays at 2pm and 7:30pm

Thursdays at 7:30pm

Fridays at 8pm

Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm

Sundays at 2pm and 7:30pm

Thru April 14th

Buy Tickets at www.GoodmanTheatre.org

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    Really enjoy the tenor of your review, Ms. W. Absolutely loved the show. I logged in only to comment one additional note: in line with your notes about how provocative, extreme, and sensational are the set and performances, direction and delivery in this production, I would only add that Richard Woodbury's SOUND DESIGN is what sealed the deal for me -- who came of age during that decade and visited friends who lived in those Times Square quarters... Bottom line, readers all: if you want to GET Shakespeare, see this production. He knew how to tell it. And so does Falls.

  • Thank you, Ms. E for the kind words to me, the Goodman and Richard Woodbury. I'm ashamed to admit I don't always notice sound design unless it's missing. And certainly, Mr. Woodbury added audio to this visual spectacle. Thank you for your adding your review to my review.

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