Themes of corruption, justice and forgiveness intersect in Shakespeare’s dark comedy “Measure for Measure,” opening April 12 at Willamette University.
In the play, Duke Vincentio calls on his deputy, Angelo, to take charge when Vienna’s sex trade threatens to overwhelm the city. But instead of leaving, the duke dons a disguise to spy on Angelo. What results is a spiraling series of deceptions, hypocrisy and scandal.
“It’s excellent theatre full of poetry,” says Director Susan Coromel. “It has a playful yet serious core of meaning and a fast-paced story full of mistaken identities. The audience is always in the know, watching the duke play ‘undercover boss,’ and yet the play’s suspense is never diminished.”
Although the comedy was written in 1604, Coromel set the play in New York City in the 1980s.
“To me, the play has very modern themes, dealing with governmental regulation of morality, the corruption of absolute power and the importance of forgiveness and redemption,” she says, adding that she was inspired by the song, “Add it up,” by the Violent Femmes.
“The song kept resonating to me with the main thrust of the play’s actions, and I began to think of a modern world where the story could be told. I focused my research on the New York City of the 1980s. … The music of the early ’80s, along with the club scene at the time, was a culture full of darkness and excess.”
“Measure for Measure” is showing April 12–27, with a preview performance April 11. Thursday through Saturday performances begin at 7:30 p.m., and 2 p.m. matinees are scheduled for April 14, 21 and 27.
Tickets are $12 for general admission, $8 for students and seniors 65 and older, and $10 per person for groups of 10 or more.
Tickets may be purchased at the door, by calling the WU Theatre Box Office at 503-370-6221 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. They are also available at www.boxofficetickets.com and at Travel Salem, 181 High St., 503-581-4325.