MEASURE FOR MEASURE by William Shakespeare – A Noise Within – Los Angeles (Glendale) Theater Review

by Tony Frankel on October 23, 2010

in Theater-Los Angeles

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In A Noise Within’s production of Measure for Measure, there is no doubt that laws which dictate morality are a reality, and The Duke (Robertson Dean) is concerned that he is too lax regarding the licentiousness of Vienna; he goes undercover as a Friar so that he may secretly observe his Deputy, Angelo, clean up the “headstrong weeds.”

Angelo (Geoff Elliot, co-directing with Julia Rodriguez-Elliot) is a naughty boy himself: He restores the decree against adultery and sentences Claudio (William Patrick Reilly) to death because his girlfriend is pregnant! Harsh. Isn’t it bad enough Angelo shuttered the Shakespearean chicken ranches, thereby putting Mistress Overdone (Jill Hill) and her servant (understudy Jeremy Rabb) in the unemployment line?

When convent novice Isabella (Karron Graves) pleads to Angelo to spare the life of her brother, Claudio, Angelo says he shall if she trades up her virginity for Claudio’s life. What a rapscallion! Claudio’s friend, Lucio (Stephen Rockwell) says of Angelo, “But it is certain that when he makes water his urine is congealed ice.” Doesn’t this just sound like something that would be ripped from today’s headlines?

To say that this company of actors is consistently remarkable (and that every actor shines) may sound trite, but it’s a challenge to single out any performance that stands out: From Mr. Elliot’s creepy Deputy to Miss Hill’s hysterical Madam; from Miss Graves’ elegant novice to Thomas Moses’ comical prisoner, Barnardine – this is an ensemble that respects each other enormously. What a joyous display of thespians.

In many respects, this is more of a serious, straightforward take on what is normally classified as a comedy. The directors smartly eschewed a classical Vienna with a setting appropriate for a futuristic, espionage spy-thriller, thus allowing the themes of politics and sex to reverberate in a profound way. Following that theme is an Orwellian set (Stephen W. Gifford), current costumes tinged with classicism (Julia Keen), and the remarkable sound design by Doug Newell/Zipline Sound.

(Regarding sound: as cinematic acting encroaches upon the theatre world, the miking of actors has become ubiquitous. The astounding ensemble at A Noise Within are not miked and the space seems to suck up dialogue (their new space opening fall, 2011, may take care of that); there is inconsistency with projection. This has happened with some other productions, and other audience members have made mention of it to me. Perhaps they should tell the theatre as well.)

tonyfrankel @

photos by Craig Schwartz

scheduled to close December 5 at time of publication
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