“Every aspect of the production is meticulously curated, working powerfully alongside a strong cast performance, immersing the audience with captivating intensity…

In a whirlwind of morality, manipulation, and murky desires, Shakespeare’s timeless classic, ‘Measure for Measure,’ takes centre stage in DUCT’s epiphany term production, offering a riveting exploration into the depths of human virtue and vice. From the striking set design to the evocative lighting and soundscapes, every aspect of the production is meticulously curated, working powerfully alongside a strong cast performance, immersing the audience with captivating intensity.

Directed by Abby Greenhalgh and Julia Kennerly and assisted by Alice Boissonnas, the small Assembly Rooms stage is used to its fullest potential, with effective blocking and dynamic staging that allows insight into the subtleties and nuances of the play. One of the strongest aspects of the play is the intricate and wildly impressive Gothic-style set, flawlessly designed by Steph Roarty. With a masterful blend of creativity and historical authenticity, the stage resembles a church sanctuary around an altar, providing a symbolic focal point that resonates throughout the performance while grounding the production within 17th-century Vienna. The lighting design (Tom Burman), executed with precision and artistry, further enhances the immersive experience, delicately illuminating the intricacies of each scene and accentuating the emotional depth of the performances. The lighting decisions are diverse and inspired, ranging from understated moments where only dimly lit candles light the stage, to vibrant bursts of colour during scenes charged with passion. This dynamic interplay of light and shadow highlights the contrasts within the narrative and underscores the complexity of the cast’s believable performances and the moral dilemmas their characters undergo, adding layers of depth and intrigue to the overall production.

The narrative follows Isabella (Alannah O’Hare) and her quest to save her brother, Claudio (Tom Corcoran), after being condemned to death by the villainous Angelo (Ollie Cochran) for impregnating a woman out of wedlock while navigating through the patriarchal structures of Vienna’s society. Alannah O’Hare delivers a masterclass performance on expression and stage presence, brilliantly commanding the space and proving herself a force to be reckoned with. Her take on Isabella is nothing short of captivating; poignant and lovable, she skilfully navigates the complexities of her character with poise and emotional depth, keeping the audience thoroughly engaged with her every animated expression and powerful delivery. The supporting cast is strong here, too. George Gibb’s strong physical comedy and timing in his depiction of Lucio is flamboyant and hysterical. At the same time, the more grounded and sober performances of Maia Harris Lindop (Escalus) and Ross Patey (Provost) are equally impressive, adding depth and richness to the show, rounding out the ensemble with skilful versatility.

While some cast members could benefit from underlining their performances with more energy and intention to ensure they remain engaging despite the sometimes-slow pace of the original script, they all overall deliver naturalistic and subdued performances to create a compelling and successful theatrical experience that leaves a lasting impression on the audience. Roxy Toyne’s performance as Mariana is a standout, confidently seizing the spotlight in the second half as she steps into the forefront of the plot, effortlessly commanding the audience’s attention. Her performance is undoubtedly elevated by the striking red dress, skilfully juxtaposed against the predominantly dark monochromatic tones of the production, infusing her character’s presence with visual allure. The costuming, designed by Emily Waller and Constance Donald and assisted by Harry English, not only serves as a symbol of her passion and resilience but also amplifies the depth of her portrayal on stage.

The costume designers deliver brilliantly with an astute integration of costuming with thematic elements, adding layers of depth and sophistication to the storytelling. Their creative vision is gorgeously indulgent yet elegant, expertly drawing reference to the period of the source material while still infusing their design with an evident creative flair. Praise must production team led by production manager Theo Nellis, including lighting from Tom Burman and sound from Xende Rivero, as well as stage manager Adams Yeung for ensuring the smooth running of the show and the producing by Ayasha Nordiawan and her excellent job with the publicity for the show.

DUCT’s ‘Measure for Measure’ is a captivating blend of meticulous design, powerful performances, and insightful direction, breathing new life into a Shakespearean classic. With a talented cast, stunning set design, and an immersive soundscape, this production is a must-see and a fantastic way to end the term.

By Dylan Jimenez

Measure for Measure will continue to show at 19:30 at the Sir Thomas Allen Assembly Rooms Theatre on Thursday the 14th and Friday 15th of March

Photo Credits: DUCT