Measure for Measure feels relevant and contemporary (4 stars)

Measure for Measure

Gordon Barr's reimagining of the Bard brings a fine morality tale

Pulsing like a murder ballad, Bard in the Botanics' artistic director Gordon Barr's adaptation of Measure for Measure has a strong Gothic sensibility. The Kibble Palace is transformed into an intimate setting for a tale of hypocrisy and corruption in Catholic Vienna. In this interpretation, Claudio, sentenced to death for fornication, becomes Claudia, played with great passion and delicacy by Esme Bayley. A pardon is suggested by the Duke's Deputy Angelo (Adam Donaldson) if Isabella, Claudia's sister and a young novice nun, will succumb to his desires. What follows is a sharp and brutal exposure of ugly entrenched misogyny.

Although the play slightly loses momentum after a thrilling first half, the dynamic cast make up for any shortcomings. Nicole Cooper is heart-rending as a poised Isabella, bringing immense dignity to a role which could so easily have fallen into the dramatic trap of hand-wringing victimhood.She is more than matched by Kirk Bage's superb Duke Vincentio, whose swaggering monologues cut to the heart of the patriarchal society. Donaldson, while a fine Angelo throughout, only fails to convince when self-flagellating as his conscience catches up with him. Nonetheless, there is a lot of heart, and many inventive scenes, in Barr's lusty production which feels relevant and contemporary.

Glasgow Botanic Gardens, until 29 Jul, 8pm.

These Headstrong Women: Measure for Measure

Shakespeare’s explosive and prescient drama makes its first appearance at Bard in the Botanics for nearly 15 years in this new version for just four actors.

Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Fri 21 Jul

£22.50 (£15) / 0141 334 2422

Sat 22 Jul

£22.50 (£15) / 0141 334 2422

Tue 25 Jul

£22.50 (£15) / 0141 334 2422

…and 4 more dates until 29 Jul


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