Measure for Measure (2002): National Theatre, London Bubble Theatre, NT Education Touring Production
PrMeasure for Measure (2002)
PRINCIPAL CAST: Charles Abomeli (Angelo); Suzann McLean (Isabella); Peter Nicholas (Duke).
This production toured schools from Plymouth to the Shetland Islands, according to the Daily Telegraph review, played briefly at the Cottesloe and resumed its tour until 18 May.
"After working in class on the material sent ahead by the company, the students take part in a day-long exercise, some of which was used in the London performance of the play - or, rather, scenes from it. Eight actors (five white, three black) played the major parts in a stripped-down version, while Mistress Overdone, the bawd, and Pompey, the pimp, scampered around the edges of it. The audience, however, got more exercise than they did. With different parts of the Cottesloe floor designated as the streets, the prison, the palace and the nunnery, the students and teachers were kept as busy as a crew of Pickfords men, shifting and rearranging their seats to form a playing area....Contrary to what one might expect from this gruesome Shakespeare-can-be-fun business, the acting was rather good. Suzann McLean's Isabella did take her cue from the name of the bawd for whom she doubled, going in for a lot of wailing and hand-wringing, and Katarina Olsson's Pompey could have been any girl hiding her hair under a cap and cutely smirking. The rest of the cast, however, spoke the verse intelligently and persuasively, keeping narrative and motives clear." ~ Rhoda Koenig, "Educational, not inspirational", Independent, 13 April 2002.
"The essence of Jonathan Petherbridge's production, staged by NT Education in collaboration with London's Bubble Theatre, is to demystify both the Bard and theatre-going itself. It's a modern-dress promenade show, and it kicks off with an introductory workshop...The eight-strong cast move effortlessly between acting their roles and discussing what we are watching, and the promenade staging (which offers punters the rare luxury of portable stools) creates a fun, informal atmosphere....The acting is serviceable rather than exciting, but then the point is to put clarity before histrionics....Suzann McLean is a touchingly anguished, refreshingly unpriggish Isabella, but Charles Abomell [sic] could make more of Angelo's menace and illicit desire....Ultimately, this isn't so much a production of Measure for Measure as a production about Measure for Measure. But it inspires both enthusiasm for Shakespeare, and real thought about the themes of this eerily contemporary masterpiece." ~ Charles Spencer, "Shakespeare, the new king of cool", Daily Telegraph, 16 April 2002.