Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Magical Measure?

Tonight's performance of the RSC's Measure for Measure at the Swan highlighted the greatness of Shakespeare's lesser known and appreciated masterpiece. The moralizing quality of the play showed through in the performance of Jodie McNee as Isabella. With her Northern English accent, this actress stepped into the spotlight bringing heart and intelligence to her role.

Another noteworthy performance of the night, Joseph Kloska as Pompey delighted the audience will as a comic deviant of posh society.

The only flaw resided in the lack-luster use of bondage, leather and whips between scenes. A conceptual addition that did not seem to take shape, shock or be anything other than a peculiar irregularity.

Raymond Coulthard as the Duke seems likable at times, though not aggressive enough in his desires to attain Isabella's heart. His literal magic act, producing letters out of thin air, became a gimmick that distracted from more then it aided to the interpretation of his role. Similarly, Jamie Ballard as Angelo was neither detestable nor likeable - sexually desiring the novice, Isabella, but not taking steps to ensure her recoil from him - in short he was not scary or cruel enough.

All was made better in the end with the ambiguous ending surmounting in Isabella's choice. The hesitant Isabella did not make her choice with ease, but took the time to contemplate her decision, even changing her mind in the final moments of the play. But the ending will not be revealed here, for every able person to get down to the theatre to see this one for themselves.

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