Noting should go wrong when you bring together a cast that includes Tom McCamus, Lucy Peacock, Brent Carver, Patrick Galligan, Steven Sutcliffe and Michelle Giroux, and then add in Roy Lewis, Karen Robinson, Charlie Gallant, Serena Parmar and Mark Crawford with George Meany to provide the music. And nothing did go wrong. It was hard to believe that we were at the first preview, it was so polished. But when you get a group of experienced professional like this, you get a professional result.
The only odd thing about the production was having the audience sit on the stage looking out to where the audience normally sits. But after the first moments of feeling unbalanced, the result was a great intimacy. Even in the third row, you felt could almost touch the cast members.
Lucy Peacock was so believable as the Duchess, it was easy to forget the role had been written for a Duke. Tom McCamus was brilliantly sleazy as Lord Angelo, sliding quickly from upright man to harasser and blackmailer. Michele Giroux was especially memorable when she asked the perennial question “Who will believe me?”, particularly relevant in these days of Trump and Ghomeshi.
It was a delight to see Brent Carver as Lucio and Steven Sutcliffe as Pompey. Mark Crawford is someone I have not seen before, but I will look for him in future after seeing his as Elbow and Barnardine. Generally, I have not thought of Measure for Measure as a comedy, but these three actors definitely bought the comedy forward.
There were no weak links and the overall result was a great production of a rarely performed Shakespeare play. Graham Abbey deserves congratulations for bringing his vision to life.