Measure for Measure | Varsity Theatre | Stage | Indy Week

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Measure for Measure

When: Thursdays-Saturdays. Continues through April 4 2015

MEASURE FOR MEASURE

THE VARSITY THEATRE, CHAPEL HILL

THURSDAY, MARCH 19–SATURDAY, APRIL 4

The ongoing "Wherefore: Shakespeare in Raleigh" festival takes a field trip to downtown Chapel Hill—and to 1920s Paris, where Bare Theatre sets its production of Shakespeare's outrageous late comedy, Measure for Measure. That libertine demimonde (Paris, not Chapel Hill) is a quite different context than Renaissance Vienna for the play's driving problems, the hypocrisy of self-righteous politicians and clergy—and the disorderly nature of desire, especially when suppressed. A priggish judge wants to make an example of a citizen who has impregnated his lover out of wedlock, and sentences him to death. His chaste Catholic sister's effort to save him sets off a succession of implausible schemes, moral binds, double identities and indecent proposals. As is common in Shakespeare's sillier plays (see also Cymbeline), there are dramatic returns of disguised manipulators, morality tests disguised as seductions and mass weddings where the calamity falls into a cynical semblance of a happy outcome. Yet it's all interspersed with passages of the soberest, darkest drama; everyone is compromised. The Varsity Theatre was built in the '20s, contemporary with director Beverly Schieman's setting, which will be projected on the movie screen. It should make for an interesting take on the sister, Isabella, reframing her resolve as a budding expression of her times, not an anomaly of them. 7:30 p.m. Thurs.­Sat., $15$18, 123 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, 919-967-8665, www.baretheatre.org.Brian Howe

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