by Williams Shakespeare
Directed by June Eubanks
Produced by Promethean Theatre Ensemble
At City Lit Theatre
Enjoyable saucy and salacious take on Measure for Measure now at City Lit Theatre
Promethean Theatre Ensemble’s first Shakespeare production, the troubled dark comedy, Measure for Measure, basically worked despite some shaky performances and some racing speeches. Director June Eubanks’ use of masks, sexy movement underscored the atmosphere in Vienna which has sunk int total decadence. Sin and violence rules here as the Duke (nice work from Robert Tobin) fearing that years of lax law enforcement cannot be undone by himself, the Duke leaves Vienna in the hands of the cold yet moral Angelo (in a strong turn from Brian Pastor).
Angelo quickly looks for someone to make an example of and he finds Claudio (Zach Clark) who has just been arrested for lechery. When Angelo sentences Claudio to death his sister, Isabella (Beth Wolf) with the help of Lucio (the terrific Nick Lake) pleads with Angelo for mercy. When Angelo gives in to the temptation to abuse his power, the virginal Isabella must choose between accepting his advances and sacrificing her brother’s life. The curious Friar Lodowick (the Duke in disguise) cleverly manipulates the characters in this dark comedy-drama.
The plots twists are nicely paced and the action is mostly well played making Promethean’s non-Equity production worthy. Once several cast members slow down their speeches and punch-out their dialogue a tad stronger, they’ll be better understood. Nick Lake, Robert Tobin, Brian Pastor were excellent and Marco Minichiello, as Pompey and Emma Kate Starling, as Escalus, were partuculaly outstanding.
Measure for Measure is a tough Shakespeare piece to get right and this hard working cast delivers a fine evening of theatre. Promethean Theatre Ensemble continues to grow as artists. This production is another move upward for them. It is nice to witness an ensemble taking their craft seriously.
At City Lit Theatre, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr, Chicago, IL, call 773-305-2897, tickets $20, www.prometheantheatre.org , Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 2 hours, 45 minutes with intermission, through June 13, 2009