Measure for Measure (1992): London Bubble Theatre

PrMeasure for Measure (

Live Performance

PRINCIPAL CAST: Linda Dobell (Juliet); Barry Killerby (Angelo); Clive Llewellyn (Claudio); Bev Willis (Duke); Sandra Yaw (Isabella).

This production toured in London from 2 June - 6 September 1992.

"Proof of their perseverance and consistent high quality, London Bubble are now celebrating their 21st summer of lugging a tent round London's parks, still adhering to the notion of 'theatre for the masses'. This year they open their season with a rattling version of an interesting and potentially difficult Shakespeare play, Measure for Measure. In this fascinating and extremely topical exploration of political and sexual hypocrisy, Angelo, a kind of Jacobean Cecil Parkinson, heads a repressive government tightening the screws on sexual libertinism only to be hoist by his own petard. The Bubble company work as an obviously committed ensemble and it's extraordinary how, despite the constant rumble of traffic, wailing sirens and their own throbbing generator, they can transfix and, more important, overcome the complexities of Shakespeare's language to present the story with exceptional clarity."  ~ Mark Pemberton, Good Times, 11 June 1992

"In the words of Gary Numan, 'It's cold outside.' So it is inside Bubble's theatre tent; the rubber blobs on the seats are a blessing. These things matter with a company not over-keen on tackling the language, and with an in-the-round production that often obscures view and renders lines inaudible. Such patchiness is carried through to the approach. It's riveting when Angelo and Isabella are on stage - the key theme of mercy/justice is powerfully conveyed - but elsewhere directorial touches work only for effect: nun, bawd and woman with child appear fleetingly at the end of the first half, and at the close of the second the company burst into an unwarranted Spanish dance - something about male-dominated society in here somewhere. The design also hints at notions underdefined: over-sized overcoats and vivid colours suggest a warped Alice in Wonderland private life/draconian public life stated in the sign that hangs from Claudio's neck: 'this person is sentenced to die for lechery' (added to the fact that Claudio is played by a black actor, undertones of slavery lurk beneath the surface humour)."  ~ Keith Stanfield, City Limits, 10 June 1992

"Performances under a flapping canvas almost always involve sacrifices of subtlety, but after 21 draughty years London Bubble have evolved a robust style that makes up with rich squidges of colour for what it loses in fine shading. The result here is a big, fat, buttery performance of an often starchy play. While Hannah Mayall's wonderful, outsize costumes - all flowing overcoats and massive buttons - suggest a kind of clownish expressionism, the show as a whole points up the flawed, fleshy humanity of each character rather than treating them as mere ciphers for goodness or corruption. Indeed, Barry Killerby's puffing, sobbing Angelo is so flawed that one can't help feeling sorry for the poor devil - particularly since it's clear from the outset that Sandra Yaw's spirited Isabella is more than capable of looking after herself. Yaw's fine performance manages convincingly to convey a sense of spiritual beauty without a hint of prissiness and, given added electricity by the black-white pairing, her interviews with Angelo vibrate with intensity. Much of this power is lost amid the silly ducal machinations of the second half, despite Bev Willis's brave stab at the feckless ruler, Suneeta Rathore's glowingly humane Provost, and some colourful cameos among the low-lifers. Moments of fussiness and overproduction aside, this is a bold, refreshing performance of a difficult play."  ~ Michael Wright, Time Out, 10 June 1992

"Despite occasional gabbling from the verse speakers (Claudio in particular was regularly incomprehensible) the performances were strong and the direction excellent - sparky, inventive, and wholly appropriate to the intimacy of the theatre tent. Barry Killerby, Bev Willis and Sandra Yaw played with authority and conviction."  ~ Simon Evans, The Big Issue, July 1992

Pe People involved in this production