“Measure for Measure” is Darkly Comical

“Measure for Measure,” written by William Shakespeare and directed by Jim Holmes, ran in the Strub Theatre with shows from October 5th through the 13th. Shakespeare’s dark comedy was brought to modern audiences, combining Shakespeare’s trademark word play and ironic themes with the talent of LMU’s theatre arts students.

“Measure for Measure” tells a story of body politics, piety, and the misuse of power. Set in 17th century Vienna, the show follows the consequences that ensure when the Duke appears to leave town and leave control of the city to his substitute, Angelo. The city of Vienna, formally a town of sin and adultery, overnight instates strict laws against all manner of debauchery and its first victim, a man named Claudio, is sentenced to death for impregnating a woman out of wedlock. His sister Isabella, a soon – to-be – nun, goes to Angelo to beg for his brother’s release, but finds herself in an unthinkable dilemma when Angelo reveals he’ll release Claudio: but only if Isabella breaks her vow of chastity and sleeps with him. The rest of the show follows the plot of the Friar to save both Claudio’s life, and Isabella’s chastity.

Although the show was written in the 1604, LMU’s faculty designers and director Jim Holmes set out to modernize key aspects of the play. Several of the male roles are filled by female actors; a subversion of the practice of all male casts often dominant in Shakespeare’s time. In addition, the show closes with a topical scene depicting the women of the cast standing together in unity, with one actress playing the role of a nun holding up a sign reading “#TimesUp”, a nod to the recent movement aimed at bringing awareness to sexual harassment and assault against women.

Photos by Jason Munoz.