THEATRE REVIEW: Measure For Measure starring Jack Lowden & Hayley Atwell at the Donmar

WORTH A LOOK?: *****

WHERE?: Donmar RUNTIME: 3 hours and 10 minutes (including 20-minute interval)

WHEN?: 28/9, press night 3/10, runs to 24/11/18

Does this production in which lead actor and actress alternate their roles offer a gender fluid theatrical 1st?

  • Read on for reasons including all the gossip from this 1st preview and how we wanted more Jackie Clune

Director Josie Rourke, also the Donmar’s outgoing artistic director, has said Shakespeare’s tale of sex and power is ‘hugely relevant’ to the #MeToo times in which we live. And it is. It shows just how timeless his tales of the human condition are.

Here we have a traditional first act set in 1604 and then a 2018 replay in modern dress in which the lead actors switch roles.

The plot centres on Angelo, a puritan hardliner on a mission to clean up the city he is put in charge of, and the sister of a man he sentences to death, Isabella. After pleading for her brother, Angelo offers to save him in return for sex.

Angelo is 1st played by Jack Lowden (an Olivier winner for Ibsen’s Ghosts) whose natural Scottish accent is very Richard Madden from Bodyguard  and has seemingly grown a beard to give him the maturity that his man bun he is also sporting undermines.

Hayley Atwell received much acclaim for her performance in Dry Powder at Hampstead Theatre and here we can appreciate why because she revels in both roles as the resolute Isabella and predatory hardliner.

The point? That abuse of power is not confined to 1 gender. A criticism? The magnificent Jackie Clune is underused but that only underlines how skilfully this play has been edited to concentrate on its central theme.

Back in 2015 we reviewed 2 very different productions of Shakespeare’s Measure For Measure running at the Young Vic and Globe.

This is completely different. And we suspect that this production of Measure For Measure will be the most pertinent, thrilling, thought provoking  and vivid Shakespeare that you will see this year.

  • Picture via Facebook courtesy Donmar. Tickets
  • Enjoyed this review? Follow its author on Twitter @NeilDurham, email neildurham3@gmail.com and check us out on Instagram and Facebook

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