Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Austin Shakespeare's Measure for Measure can offer you a good time. It has a dramatic intrigue, lots of clowning, a clever time-warp setting in Savannah, Georgia of the 1920s and a cast that I'd be happy to put up against any other American Shakespeare company out there.
At the same time that he's entertaining us, Shakespeare is working some much deeper themes. These include the responsibility of authority; chastity, promiscuity, desire and disease; the role of the state in policing behavior; the arrogance of office and the equally reprehensible pride that may attend self-righteous virtue.
Summarizing all in a lengthy phrase, Measure for Measure deals with the folly of the pursuit of fleeting pleasure and the difficulty of making virtuous preparation for inevitable death.
Pretty crunchy stuff.
You don't have to take it that way, of course. The highly positive comments posted to date at NowPlayingAustin are all over the place, but each of the five ratings is for the maximum five stars.
Director Ann Ciccolella and the cast substitute Savannah for the Shakespeare's Vienna, which was imaginary, in any case, and their molasses Georgia accents give the words of this generally unfamiliar text further exotic tang. For that double distilled concoction -- Elizabethan text to Savannah speech -- you can expect your inner ear to take longer than usual to tune in. The clear diction of their wondrous speech helps.
Read more at AustinLiveTheatre.com . . . .