Dark Comedy Gives Fringe Fix For Bard Addicts

Published: Fri 5 Feb 2010 02:59 PM
Dark Comedy Gives Fringe Fix For Bard Addicts

For the fifth year Shakespeare fans will get a chance to feed their passion in the Fringe with Eastbourne’s Bard in the Yard production of his dark adult comedy, Measure for Measure.
Measure for Measure’s themes are uncannily up to date which probably explains its increasing popularity worldwide. Recent productions have explored themes such as corrupt government and the misuse of power, the balance between mercy and justice, the dangers of fundamentalism and extremism, and the state’s role in controlling sexual behaviour.
“I’m surprised Wellington audiences haven’t seen much of this play,” says director, John Marwick. “It includes some of Shakespeare’s most powerful scenes, most beautiful language, most thought provoking themes, and some lesser-known but fascinating and even bizarre characters; a combination that we couldn’t resist”.
The play is set in a city that has declined into moral decay. The Duke steps aside leaving his puritanical deputy, Angelo to clean up the city while he secretly observes, disguised as a friar. Angelo resorts to archaic laws to enforce strict standards of morality; the brothels are closed and fornicators beheaded. Young Claudio has got his fiancée pregnant and is condemned to death. His sister Isabella, just about to become a nun, pleads Claudio’s case with Angelo. But Isabella faces a religious and moral dilemma when the deputy’s lust is inflamed and he offers Claudio’s life in exchange for her virginity. How the disguised Duke contrives to trick and then confront an increasingly corrupt Angelo is the central story of the play. But Shakespeare’s also populates his city with wonderfully eccentric and funny characters and seasons the bleak and serious side with comedy and love.
Marwick has set the play in late nineteenth century Europe – the time and look of the Moulin Rouge movie. “A story about appearance and reality fits well into those times,” he says. “On the surface a very respectable society but with a sordid underbelly.”
Measure for Measure will be the fourteenth annual Shakespeare produced by Eastbourne’s prize-winning Butterfly Creek Theatre Troupe and Marwick’s eleventh. He has attracted a large cast of experienced Shakespearean actors both locally and from all over Wellington.
The production is outdoors on the specially built school yard stage but moves into the adjoining hall in bad weather. Audiences should dress warmly. Bookings are recommended because the short season may books out.
Measure for Measure
7.30pm Tuesday 16th – Saturday 20th February
Butterfly Creek Theatre Troupe. Muritai School Yard, Muritai Road, Eastbourne.
Tickets: Adults $15, Supergold and student cards $12, School children and Fringe addict cards $10
Online bookings: Phone bookings: 0832 77790. Sales: Rona Gallery, Eastbourne

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