Young Vic | ★★★★☆
The Duke wades through a pile of blow up sex dolls, kicking plastic bodies out of his way. He pauses and says, “I love the people.”
These inflatable citizens are no lewder than those who inhabit the city of Vienna in Shakespeare’s barmiest play. Often referred to as a “problem play”, it’s too angst-ridden to be a comedy and too farcical to be a tragedy. One can get lost in its contradictions.
Director Joe Hill-Gibbins’ solution is blunt characterisation. The Duke becomes a pathalogical control freak, Mariana a vengeful Alanis Morrisette fan, Pompey a street-wise New York pimp. These cartoonish characters complement the audacious staging, which makes engaging use of projections, hand held cameras and biblical imagery.
It’s a bold, unorthodox take on Measure for Measure that turns up the madness so you can no longer hear the knottier plot points.