Shakespeare the way Shakespeare wrote it

Posted August 29, 2018

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By Bill Wineke, Channel3000 | August 29, 2018

SPRING GREEN, Wis. - William Shakespeare wrote “Measure for Measure” in 1603 but, if you attend the current American Players Theatre production, you might think it was written yesterday.

That's in part, but only in part because the play is costumed with 21st century garb. Lots of Shakespearean productions do that (“Othello” seems doomed to be recreated in modern garb). The result is usually more distracting than illuminating.

But, in this production of “Measure for Measure,” a play that deals with qualities of leadership and hypocrisy of leaders, the modern costumes allow the audience to delve into the moral issues of the plot without having to translate “Shakespeare” internally as they view the play.

The plot is somewhat simple. 

Set in Vienna, it begins with Duke Vicentio, played by James Ridge, who feels overwhelmed by his inability to deal with the licentious behavior of his subjects.

He determines to turn over power temporarily to his lieutenant Angelo (Marcus Truchinski), who is a by-the-book disciplinarian. Vicentio then dons the garb of a religious brother in order to keep an eye on what's happening.

Angelo quickly changes from disciplinarian to authoritarian. Enter Claudio (Roberto Tolentino) who has managed to impregnate his fiance, Juliet (Cher Desiree Alvarez), violating city law. He orders Claudio put to death.

So, we have a weak leader who cannot control his city replaced by a martinet who equates power with justice. This is not a dilemma that ended in the 17th century.

Read the full review here.