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Measure For Measure

Published 9 October 2015

What’s it all about?

Measure For Measure is one of Shakespeare’s trickiest tales, but Joe Hill-Gibbins’ has breathed fresh, raucous and downright bonkers life into the tale of a city lost to debauchery.

Blow-up dolls, sex tapes, bongs and a vocal cameo from the best break-up album of the 90s: Toto, I don’t think we’re in the 17th century anymore…

Who’s in it?

All number of morally dubious characters and party fiends.

A startling Zubin Varla oversees proceedings as the Duke Vincentio, who takes on a disguise in order to quietly watch his city melt into a hotpot of hedonism leaving Paul Ready’s Angelo in charge. Matched with the show’s vivid religious imagery and music, Hill-Gibbins’ intense vision sees the pair take on all the sinister, controlling arrogance of cult leaders. It’s little wonder then that Romola Garai, as devoted nun-in-training Isabella, becomes the picture of innocence, her soft prayers and plain attire cutting through everyone’s moral bankruptcy like an icy cold breeze: she’s a Vermeer muse in a Pop Art world.

But it is Tom Edden as the brash, lewd Pompey who proves the scene stealer; drawing every inch of wit from the comedy gold Shakespeare bestows on Measure For Measure’s most legendary rogue and transforming the character into a tacky, crotch grabbing, overindulging clown.

What should I look out for?

A couple of hundred blow up dolls having an orgy, Hill-Gibbins’ now trademark use of live filming – you’re likely never to have seen a plastic penis that close up – and an ingenious depiction of the city’s prison.

In a nutshell?

Acid bright, loud, wild and untamed, Hill-Gibbins’ modern day Measure For Measure is a welcome assault on the senses.

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Will I like it?

Hill-Gibbins’ production is a welcome assault on the senses as this tale of trickery, morality and desire plays out like never before. If you like your Shakespeare with ruffs and a curtain call jig, this may not be your cup of tea. More in the mood for vodka than tea? Down a shot or two and take a seat.

Measure For Measure is playing until 14 November. You can book tickets through the Young Vic’s website.

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