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Measure for Measure

I’d not seen or read this play so, knew only that it was a comedy so was open to any experience as was the busload of Spokes.

The building was just right, the outside walls covered in excerpts from various plays, the stage large complete with trapdoor. Apart from the various letters and proclamations the only props were a severed head, a very fancy dildo and a wheeled suitcase.

As advertised, it was bawdy, verging on the pornographic, a play about hypocrisy and love. The tone was set by the fool (man about town) in a fabulously over the top costume carrying a long walking stick with a knob on the end that he used to great effect when commenting on the behaviour of other characters. As the story revolved around the closing down of the suburban brothels of which he was a frequent customer and the arrest of a pregnant unmarried couple, there was plenty of scope. The whores were resplendent, the provost and marshals were dressed like the Vatican Swiss Guard (apart from the bumbling policeman in a London bobby outfit). The Duke was variously dressed in full regalia and as a prior. In his prior disguise and with a Virginian accent he exhorted the enthusiastic audience to “hallelujah” and “amen”.

The ensemble danced, sang and cavorted. Little modern remarks such as the pious virgin novice on reconsidering the Duke’s offer of marriage with “Oh bugger it!” added to the fun. Of course in the end no one died and the measure for measure was carried out by the villain (very dapper in a black velvet suit) having to marry the women he had jilted because her dowry wasn’t big enough. This woman sang and played the lute, I think, beautifully.

One of my daughters was with the groundlings and we anticipated that those standing would be hot and uncomfortable, fortunately for them a breeze blew through and we were left sitting on hot plastic seats in an airless corner but I don’t think anyone minded at all.


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