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Reviewing 'Measure for Measure' at The Tower Theatre

Fittingly, during the same week that the U.K. election was announced, The Tower Theatre in Stoke Newington presented Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure. The comedy explores the corruption, cruelty and chaos which prevail when the Duke of Vienna suddenly defects from government, leaving the inexperienced Angelo (with whom Nadhim Zahawi inadvertently aligned himself with in his recent resignation speech) in charge. 

Founded in 1932, the amateur Tower Theatre Company has provided a launch-pad for such names as Michael Gambon and Siân Phillips, and the wonderful cast of this production was headed by King College London’s alumnus Ella Dale.

George Savona’s production was supposedly set in Puritanical England, although this was not especially clear from the set, which was a little drab and nondescript. The small space might have benefitted from a simpler staging, and perhaps fewer empty chairs for the Duke to crash into while trying to exit the stage. More successful, however, was the lighting, which simply but effectively conveyed the sense of the different settings of the town and the monasteries. 

Nonetheless, the production was well-conceived, and the cast had a firm grasp on the action. Apart from a few fluffed lines and some slightly laboured declamation, the supporting actors created colourful characterisations of the inhabitants of Vienna which brought out the play’s humour and modern resonances. Dale particularly shone as Isabella, with her moving entreaty to Angelo clearly demonstrating more understanding than the former chancellor, and Patrick Shearer was suitably slimy as the newly-empowered despot opposite her. 

This production was a thoroughly enjoyable rendition of one of Shakespeare’s less frequently-performed plays, in a charming small theatre, and the few fumbles are sure to be ironed out over the course of the run.


Edited by Georgia Gibson, Theatre Editor.

Thumbnail photo by Jason Harris.


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