A Shakespearian for the Sinners
The Ithaca College Theatre’s 2011 to 2012 main-stage season ended brilliantly with an erotic dark comedy about hegemony, and the balance between virtue and justice. With some quality acting, eye-catching costumes and a whimsical genre combining both horror and comedy, Measure for Measure proves to be the best show of the spring series.
The first element that caught my eye was the set-up of the stage. Five curved triangular structures with an industrialized worn silver finish were placed front, left stage. The rotating structure was used to specify the setting throughout the play. The play opens with flashing lights, and glimpses of whimsical, nightmarish characters. This phantasm theme continues through the entire performance, really making that combination of horror and comedy clear to the audience. The strong design statement distinguishes IC’s Measure for Measure from other similar Shakespearian productions. “It sounds strange and it is…almost like a Tim Burton kind of world where we might laugh in one moment and shiver in the next when a character demands ‘off with his head,” said Wendy Dann, assistant professor of theatre arts and director of this production. The show also explores the idea that the play was written by Shakespeare with a purpose to encourage temperance for the new king of the time period. The dangers of acquiring power on the psyche resonated clear.
The second reason you want to see this show: it is entirely about the activity young adults love best. Sex. The innuendos and the subtle gestures had me laughing out loud. Seniors Andrew Karl and Miles Crosman did a fabulous job rendering the vulgar humor that Shakespeare intended.
But the show definitely is more than its constant undertones of sex and sin. Senior Bruce Landry blew me away with his character of Claudio. His genuineness and honest emotion in every scene allowed me to not think of him as a fellow peer in a play, but rather a man fighting for his life against an adulterous tyrant. Freshman Matt Maden’s performance as Provost also left me with a smile on my face. His excitement and constant frenzied state left me remembering him as a stand out in a strong and mature cast — a definite feat for the young actor. I cannot wait to see his future performances in years to come. Senior John Gardner also put on a stellar performance as the funny and clever Vincentio. Junior Dan Berlingeri was the perfect fit as the powerful and evil Angelo. I loved to hate him. Other noteworthy performances include Senior Graham Drake-Maurer, Senior Hallie Peterson and Junior Monique Huff.
Aside from the powerful acting, the costumes were my next favorite part of the show. The mishmash eclectic styles very much had a dark circus, Tim Burton air to them. Congratulations to the costume crew on a job well done!
However, no show is perfect. The only costume I had a problem with was Angelo’s high collar. I understand it was supposed to symbolize power, but at times it was difficult to see his profile facial expressions. One thing I strongly disliked was the music choice. It had a dark, nightmarish feel, but almost sounded too cliché—like some free downloadable sound effect to use with a high school video project. Also the microphones had a few loud moments, but kinks like that are almost expected on opening night. The show ran a little long, as well.
Overall, I was really impressed with the show, the cast and the crew. IC has taken a Shakespeare classic, and effectively put their spin on it in a creative and engaging way. If you think you don’t like Shakespeare, now is the time to give it a second try. If you are already a fan, I recommend you to come see Shakespeare in a way you have never experienced before. Come; be seduced by the intriguingly dark-humored side of the IC Theatre Department. You won’t regret it.
Performances will be held at the Hoerner Theatre in Dillingham Center on April 27 and 28 at 8 p.m. and 2 p.m. matinee performances on April 28 and 29. There will be a talk back presentation following the April 28th matinee performance. Ticket prices range from $5.50 to $11.