London celebrations

Measure for Measure – Dan Riddle, St George’s College

I saw a few productions at the Globe Theater, but was very pleased to find that “Measure for Measure” was being performed at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse – a small, intimate, candle-lit indoor theater within the grounds of the Globe Theater. .

I went into this a bit blindly, because while I had obviously heard about Shakespeare’s play “Measure for Measure”, I didn’t know too much, so I did some research before my visit.

Measure for measure, which takes place in Vienna, was first performed on December 26, 1604, during the Christmas celebrations of James I (it is believed to have been written in 1604 or possibly late 1603 ). Although described as a comedy, it has dark themes and is known as one of Shakespeare’s problematic plays (where she creates a problem and then tries to solve it).

There are two sources which, it is widely believed, inspired Shakespeare to write Measure for Measure: one being the story of Epita, by Cinthio, written in 1565; the other source for a drama called “Promos and Cassandra” by George Whetstone in 1578.

I found that * Sparknotes website really helpful in helping to wrap up the story and get familiar with the characters before you see the show.

I had never been to the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse before. It’s much smaller than The Globe, it has a roof, but the internal layout is very similar except the Little Pit is a seating area. The fact that the only light comes from candles hanging down from the ceiling really sets the scene. The theater being so small and intimate, the actors were sometimes only a foot or two away from where we were seated; and being so close and seeing their emotions was so uplifting and made you feel like you were experiencing the scene with them.

We sat in The Pit – Row B, seats 4 and 5, which had a great view, but I think row D would be better, as you had a backrest (essential during production over 2:30 minutes).

This production at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse directed by Blanche McIntyre, takes place in 1975 in Great Britain – where unemployment is very high, and we are on the brink of financial and political crisis.

I’m not going to spoil the plot for anyone planning on going to see the show, but a very brief summary of “Measure for Measure” is that it is the story of a wealthy teenager. called Claudio, who gets his girlfriend Juliet pregnant and for that he risks execution (not something they did in Britain in 1975, I don’t think so). However, they were engaged and were planning to get married.

Claudio’s sister, Isabella (played absolutely brilliantly, with such emotion and so many lines to learn, by Georgia Landers) wants to do whatever she can to help save her brother. But Isabella is very religious and not ready to do exactly what is asked – and rightly so. He is a very strong character, with a firm vision of good and bad.

It seems like a very suitable production for everyone, especially teenagers – we all need the courage and strength to say NO every now and then, and to have the strength and courage to say it. Isabella has all of these characteristics.

You can find out more about Measure to Measure and buy tickets here – it runs until January 15, 2022.

Unfortunately, just before I finished writing this, the Globe Theater announced the cancellation of “Measure for Measure” from December 21-31 due to Covid. See Twitter for all the details.