Thursday, 25 November 2010

Sexuality and Desire in the Struggle for Power

Measure for Measure
Sherman Cymru
Venue: The Provincial, Cardiff Bay
Directed by : Chris Ricketts
Dates: 18 November - 05 December
Reviewed by Chelsey Gillard
Photographs from Sherman Cymru Gallery

William Shakespeare's play dealing with corruption, power and lust has been dramatically remodelled by D.J. Britton to deliver a punchy, sharp and relevant piece of theatre. The whole production has been shortened to two hours and many characters from the original have been merged to give a smaller but very strong cast.
Even with the reduced number of characters most of the actors had to take on two roles. This really developed the ideas of deception and hidden agendas, especially as the characters were often polar opposites. Perhaps the best example of this was Ifan Meredith's solemn, chaste Angelo and his delightfully camp brothel madam Mistress Overdone.


Ifan Meredith tries to seduce Kezia Burrows

To allow this duality of character the costumes were masterfully designed. Some had removable panels that revealed chains and piercings, others cloaks that were readjusted to showcase busty corsets. Kezia Burrows beautifully played Isabella, a novice nun, whose habit had a cut out panel to reveal lace and barely concealed underwear, showing how even those who devote their life to chastity can be objects of desire.

As it was performed in the round the audience could not help but feel involved and therefore cast their own judgements as to who was right and wrong in a tale full of vice. The audience were even given the opportunity to sit right alongside the action with ringside seats. The whole set was magnificent; drawers and chests with half open cupboards gave a sense of secrecy and temptation, scattered bottles of alcohol and makeup illustrated the lack of self restraint all the characters felt at some point.



Opulent surroundings at The Provincial

Even the venue added to the atmosphere, the building is in the centre of what used to be Cardiff's red light district, but was formerly a bank. These contrary ideas of sexuality and power were key themes of the play. The lighting and music built the sensual ambience, with moody saxophone and deep lighting. Everything came together to build a fantastic atmosphere and really compelling performance.



"Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall".

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