In an Israel where one political party yearns to turn the state into a theocracy, another brazenly loathes homosexuals and innumerable public figures are quite egregiously corrupt, a production of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure could not be more opportune.
Enter centre-stage Theatre in the Rough, whose current spare, moveable feast has audiences rushing round Jerusalem’s Bloomfield Gardens in the wake of an energetic cast as they strip bare an early 17th century European fantasy world cruelly redolent of events in modern boardrooms - and bedrooms – anywhere one may name.
Billed as ‘family friendly’, the show uses few props and is most wisely ‘played for laughs’, with much musical strumming and drumming to keep even the youngest playgoers alert.
What is this we hear?
As we lose the last embers of one day’s burnished sun, Avital Sykora’s Duke Vincentio reminds us of Will’s real intent.
While the Duke makes his climactic speech against the backdrop of one lonely lamp, it is clear that the life-scarred playwright’s aim is not only to entertain or even educate, but to elevate us.
“Being criminal, in double violation
Of sacred chastity, and of promise-breach,
Thereon dependent, for your brother’s life,—
The very mercy of the law cries out
Most audible, even from his proper tongue,
‘An Angelo for Claudio, death for death!’
Haste still pays haste, and leisure answers leisure,
Like doth quit like, and Measure still for Measure “.
How astounding then, that this speech, leaning so heavily on the Christian Gospels’ Sermon on the Mount, which in turn was filched so blithely from Jewish tradition is being replayed with gusto in a picturesque Jerusalem park. The rest is surely commentary!
Theatre in the Rough’s Measure for Measure: in Motion continues at Bloomfield Gardens from Sunday – Tuesday August 25 – 27.
© Natalie Wood (23 August 2019)