You crack open a Shakespeare play and expect that sing song cadence that transports you back in time to some sort of ancient world with princes and jesters, dukes and dames. Measure for Measure at the Emerson Cutler Majestic is nothing you expect of Shakespeare. Well almost nothing. I was provided tickets for review, and as always all opinions are my own.
Watching this play of power, sex, betrayal, and masquerade in the age of Me Too and with our government as it currently sits is an experience in itself. It is an experience that places a spotlight on the truths of “human nature” that Shakespeare himself put on display for all to witness.
The soft angular sound of Russian adds another dimension to the play as well. With the surtitles and the artistry of the actors I almost forgot I don’t speak or understand Russian, although I am pretty sure a good part of tonight’s audience did. I only wish the surtitles were a little lower to read and watch the scenes play out.
I loved the staging and choreography of the ensemble as they worked together to set up each scene flowing from one to the next. Alexander Arsentyev played a convincing and compassionate Duke who nonetheless had the hubris to ask for Isabella’s hand in marriage. Andrei Kuzichev played a familiar and despicable power hungry despot. Anna Vardevanian’s Isabella was incredibly convincing and powerful. On her shoulders rested a good part of the story and from the subtlest movement to the most pleading outcry, she had the entire audience’s attention.
The line that struck me most in the play and is still resonating is:
My false outweighs your truth.
It is a battle we are all witnessing on different levels in this day and age. The arts are here to help us all get closer to the truth.
If you are a theatre lover and want to see Shakespeare in a different light or if you are a Shakespeare lover in general, you will bot want to miss one of the few remaining performances of Measure for Measure performed by Cheek by Jowl and The Pushkin Theatre.
Performances run through October 28th, 2018 at the Emerson Cutler Majestic. Tickets can be purchased online here or by calling (617) 824-8400.