Measure for Measure
Directed by Miles Gregory
Reviewed by Emer Lyons
The theme song of the 2005 drama It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp could easily be the same for Measure for Measure in the Dunedin debut of the pop-up globe NZ tour.
Contemporary retellings of Shakespearean comedies have become synonymous with the dismantlement of theatre’s fourth wall.
The cast, directed by the founder of the pop-up globe Miles Gregory, frolicked amongst the audience with abandon throughout the play with colloquialisms and Kiwiana slang rife.
The impeccable costumes by Chantelle Gerrard made me weak with envy.
The entire cast meshed together beautifully and I will not name individuals here as I believe that would undercut the troop structure of community performance they have created.
At first glance, the significance today of a play thought to have been originally conceived in 1603 could seem unyielding. But as the sex workers fight against the shame of their decreed unlawful profession, and a young couple are paraded publicly for their fornication, we are made to question the moral bounds of our societal thinking and how much, if anything, has really changed.
At the offset it seems as though the individual is to blame for offences, and not structural inequality. Feminist movements and the hashtag revolutions of our 2019 world like Me Too, Times Up and I Believe her, find a place in the streets of Vienna, modestly depicted in a set designed by Malcolm Drake within which the simple sliding of a lock conveys centuries of injustice against women.
There is an extraordinary prevalence of sexual innuendo to help convey the "hidden" meaning in Shakespeare’s script, and musical interludes showcase the multi-talented cast at their best and most frivolous.
The comedy seeks to undercut the horrific surrealism of the sexism at play with women traded off at the wave of the Duke’s hand.
It made for a welcome change to see women’s roles predominantly played by women, and the moments where the female characters displayed sisterhood against the odds provided some glimpses of hope.
As Measure for Measure reminds us, it’s hard out here for a woman, and if we don’t laugh we might cry!