Who: Syracuse University Drama
Where: Loft Theater – 820 E. Genesee St. Syracuse, NY
When: March 27 – April 12
Tickets: $17-$19, student tickets available
Review by Haley Chouinard
With a compelling and highly stylized production of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, Syracuse University Drama sweeps the audience away to Vienna circa 1880 where hijinks and trickery ensue.
Measure for Measure tells the tale of Duke Vincentio of Vienna, played by Daniel Chavarriaga, who hands over power to the strict and puritanical Lord Angelo, played by Ezekiel Edmonds. Much like Shakespeare’s other comedies, the plot is riddled with complex schemes, mistaken identities and concludes with multiple marriages. Throughout the play, the characters ponder the relationship between morality, religion and justice.
The large cast, made up of 14 actors, fit snuggly in the Loft Theater, SU Drama’s small, but flexible black box performance space. The set is comprised of multiple levels and director Celia Madeoy’s staging is intriguing to watch.
This show is truly a great display of talent and an excellent use of an ensemble cast. While the lead actors give impressive performances, this show belongs to its supporting cast, particularly Luke Brau as the bawdy Pompey and Tom Hayes as the conniving Lucio. Brau and Hayes add a layer of mischief and fun to an otherwise austere show.
The costumes, designed by SU student Simon Brett, were stunning. Even the simple garb of Isabella, a novice nun, is beautifully crafted. Perhaps the most fascinating costume was that of Elbow, a constable, who inexplicably wore a copper leg brace, complete with gauges, gears and coils. Both the costumes and the set design feature a subtle steampunk flare that makes the production much more visually interesting.
Despite a few minor mishaps like wigs falling off and doors not being shut, this is an impressive production of a difficult play. The questions that Shakespeare posed in Measure for Measure are questions we still struggle with today. What is morality’s role in government? Should we hold our political leaders to a higher moral standard? Measure for Measure tackles these big ideas through hypocrisy, trickery, a little bit of blasphemy and a lot of fun.