Department of Theatre, Film and Creative Writing at UBC

Measure for Measure

by William Shakespeare

Venue: Frederic Wood Theatre
Dates: 13 - 22 November 2003

Reviewer: Jane Penistan




Director: Gerry Mackay MFA candidate Set design:Janice Chiu Costume design : Christine Reimer Lighting design: Erin Harris Sound design: Andreas Kahre Stage Manager: Tien Yen




Mistress Overdone by Christine Reimer

Measure for Measure has the reputation of being a "problem play". This contradictory dark comedy, currently running at the Frederic Wood Theatre, is courageously directed by BFA candidate Jerry Mackay and performed by student actors. This is a difficult undertaking for an inexperienced company.

The director has chosen to set the action in the Vienna of the turn of the 19th/20th century, at that time a city of decadence but also of the most advanced medical thinking. Like the play itself, it was a place of license and under-cover discovery. The set background shows the city with once strong, but now somewhat decayed, walls. Shafts of light cross the stage, some casting bars of shadows. For the most part this is very effective, except when the faces of speakers are obscured in shade. The opening dream of the city of light and frivolity is most exciting, but unfortunately the excitement vanishes with the dream.

Few of the actors seem completely comfortable in their roles and are not playing well together. Neither Duke Vincentio (Jason Nicola) nor his deputy, Angelo (Kerry Allchin) has the manner of a man of authority, who, all


his life, has expected to be obeyed immediately and unquestioningly. Jess Watson as Isabella, is most successful in her early scenes. Mike Griffin's Lucio is a very good effort on the part of an inexperienced actor at playing one of Shakespeare's braggarts. Robin Mooney lights up the stage with her bawdy Mistress Overdone. With a sense of the poetry of his speeches, Mike Waterman as Claudio is a frightened young man desperately trying to face death bravely. His is an excellent performance. Also very believable is Helenna Santos as Mariana.

Gerry Mackay makes good use of the stage and surroundings in the Frederic Wood Theatre, and has a great concept of Measure for Measure. This is an intelligent and well thought out presentation of one of Shakespeare's dark comedies. The text is full of questions and the end leaves no final promise of everlasting happiness for Angelo and Isabella. Mackay rightly leaves the audience wondering.

Measure for Measure runs at the Frederic Wood Theatre, UBC November 13 - 22, 2003 Monday to Saturday at 7.30 p.m. Tickets available at the Frederic Wood Theatre Box Office or by calling 604-822-2678. For more information visit

2003, Jane Penistan