Measure for Measure was staged February 6, 7, 8, and 9, 2020 at the Forrest Nickerson Theatre, 285 Pembina Highway, part of RMTC’s Master Playwrights Festival, Shakespearefest 2020.
One of Shakespeare’s “Dark Comedies”, Measure for Measure explores themes such as good government, public and private morality, and the balance of justice and mercy.
What happens when a too-liberal ruler contrives to leave his state in the hands of a man with a reputation for strictness? What happens when that man adopts a system of zero-tolerance?
Shakespeare's dark comedy explores this situation, introducing themes and characters found in his other plays. Mercy is ultimately proven to be an essential aspect of justice. Strong-willed Isabella is not unlike Portia from The Merchant of Venice. The climax of the play is her "Me Too" moment. The brooding Claudio is a thumbnail version of Hamlet in Hamlet. Iago (from Othello) is mirrored in the scheming Lucio, but here he is a comic character. Brothel owner Mistress Overdone, her "tapster" Pompey, and their companions are a cheeky version of the rustics seen in several other plays. And no comedy is complete without at least one disguise, in this case Duke Vincentio as a Friar. As is traditional, the comedy is tidied up with a series of marriages, arranged, of course, by the Duke.