The Dark Room, Cnr Pitt and Church Street, Palmerston North

07/08/2018 - 11/08/2018

Production Details


“Some rise by sin, some by virtue fall…” 

A group of young theatre enthusiasts from Palmerston North have banded together to create a production of the Social Drama Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare. While you’d be forgiven for thinking that fundamentalist Governments, people fighting for sexual and religious liberty and questioning the Government’s ability to regulate identity sounds very 2018, Measure for Measure was written as a comedic but ultimately serious play around 1604. 

One of Shakespeare’s more obscure plays, Measure for Measure tells of a young teenager being condemned to death for having pre-marital sex, and how the community around him responds. From his sentence stems discoveries of hypocrisy, manipulation and inner conflict as the characters must decide what they stand for. The play is performed by theatre enthusiasts young and old, both experienced and novices, with director Aaron McLean leading the actors in exploring these themes and questions themselves. 

“It’s fascinating that something so distant and so foreign to a modern day audience can understand us so well.” Says McLean on why he wanted to direct the play. “The things Measure for Measure has to say hit home now more than ever. It’s probably Shakespeare’s darkest play that isn’t a full on tragedy, but it’s also in many respects his most honest, especially in the world we live in now.” 

Set in a mystical, purgatory-like Vienna with a holy, celestial Government and an industrial, riotous punk styled public, Measure for Measure opens its doors to audiences
at the Dark Room, Palmerston North
7th to the 11th of August 2018

Paul Lyons as the Duke of Vienna
Liam Robson as Angelo, his deputy
Miriam Dixon as Escalus, his loyal right hand woman
William Eddy as Elbow, his foolish constable.

Michael Dixon as Claudio, a gentleman condemned to death
Taryn Field as Juliet, his fiancée
Nyah Toomey as Isabella, his sister, a promising nun
Cameron Dickons, his best friend

Brittney Dicker as Sister Francisca
Sam Wyss as the Provost
Katherine Lyons as Mariana

Alessia Morel as Mistress Overdone
Rosheen Leslie as Pompey, her tapster
Justin Ngai as Barnardine, a dissolute drunk 

Music Composed by Isaac O'Hagan
Performed by Taryn Field

Lighting Design and Operation by Kerri Nicholson
Sound Operation and Stage Management by Alexandra Bellad-Ellis
Set Designed by Nic Green
Choreography by Alessia Morel.
Make-up by Rosheen Leslie.

Theatre ,

The action moves along well

Review by John C Ross 08th Aug 2018

Measure for Measure is Shakespeare’s darkest comedy, and this production stresses its darkness. At its visual centre, upstage centre, for most of the play, is a scantily clad man, crouching, festooned with chains, in a prison and sentenced to be beheaded in a few hours’ time.

What is his crime? For the sake of the plot, the city ofViennahas a strict law laying down that extra-marital shagging is a death-penalty offence. Clearly, this law has up till now been utterly disregarded. The city’s young people have been bonking happily all over the show and it’s got heaps of whorehouses. Shocking matter.

The ruling Duke, embarrassed by this, and perhaps even more by the whingeing of the city’s moral puritans, has abruptly announced he’s going off an some urgent state business, and appointed one of them, Angelo, to wield his power in his absence. What he actually does is disguise himself as a Friar, and hang around to watch what happens.  

As the Duke, Paul Lyons, vastly experienced, anchors an otherwise young cast, and clearly enjoys his character’s manipulating of others while absolutely unrecognised by them, as a pretend-friar. Except that there’s a ruthlessness and latent cruelty to this Duke. And of course, as Friar, the character does not enjoy having the character Lucio, played here by Cam Dickons, telling tales about the “fantastical Duke of dark corners,” and, as Duke, eventually punishes him, by compelling him to marry a whore.  

Lucio is described in the programme as “a rowdy pimp” which fits with how he is costumed and is played. If he were, rather, a “fantastic” – a rather wild young gent about town – this would be more obviously a dreadful punishment. At any rate, Dickons does the “rowdy pimp” role with gusto. As with all the younger cast members, there is room to work on clear diction.

Liam Robson as Angelo looks good and has obvious, partly-realised, acting potential, yet at certain moments could work on conveying strong emotions without shouting within what is, after all, a relatively small theatre-venue.

Nyah Toomey as Isabella, the sister of the condemned man Claudio, does reasonably well, although she could make more of some marvellous lines, taking them a fraction slower and with more strength of feeling. The same can be said for Michael Dixon, as Claudio.

A couple of male characters are played by young women, with Miriam Dixon poised and articulate as Escalus, and Rasheen Leslie entertainingly cheeky as the brothel-tapster Pompey Bum. Brittney Dicker as the nun Francisca has relatively few words yet makes up for this with eloquent facial expressions, reacting to events.

Adequate are Sam Wyss as the Provost, Katherine Lyons as Mariana and Taryn Feild as Juliet, Claudio’s betrothed, also a musician. Will Eddy doubles as Elbow the Constable and Abhorson the executioner. Alessia Morel is good fun as Mistress Overdone the brothel-madam, and is also responsible for choreography.

There’s some striking no-period costuming, by Sonia’s Silhouette Design and Courtney Davis. The script is cleverly cut, with a few added theatrical jokes, and the action moves along well.


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