Now the Donmar Warehouse's Josie Rourke goes beyond the performative gender switching to direct a boldly re-imagined Measure for Measure.
Puritanical, domineering Angelo is promoted and put in charge of the city, using his authority to sentence citizens to death for sexual misconduct. But when desperate young nun Isabella begs for mercy, the encounter reveals that Angelo is as impure as those he condemns. And he is willing to use his position of power to manipulate and exploit.
Shakespeare's story of a corrupt Vienna is reworked to become a play of two parts; one centering around 1604, the year Measure for Measure was first performed; and the other recasting the drama for 2018.
Rourke describes Shakespeare's problem play as a 'hugely relevant' and 'extraordinary workplace drama'. 'It is about what happens when someone abuses power in the workplace'. So expect and keen awareness of the #MeToo along with Shakespeare's nuanced study of power, purity and exploitation.
By showing us the roles of Deputy and Novie played by a man and woman alterantely, the production will force us to confront the impact of gender in the abuse of power. The role swap will occur around half-way through the show, with some action repeated to explore how the same dynamics are different when genders are reversed.
So that pivotal moment when Angelo demands Isabella has sex with him to spare her brother's life will be played out as both a man exploiting a woman and a woman using her power to manipulate a man.
Under Josie Rourke the Donmar has a pedigree for shaking up Shakespearean texts with startling contemporary productions. There was the masterful all-female prison drama version of the History Plays and a sleek, troubling Corialanus. This new version of Measure for Measure looks to be every bit as exciting. We recommend booking promptly; the theatre's stellar reputation and 250-seat capacity are likely to lead to a sellout.
Tickets for Measure for Measure at the Donmar Warehouse go on general sale at 10am on Wednesday 9 May.
|What||Measure for Measure, Donmar Warehouse|
|Where||Donmar Warehouse, 41 Earlham Street, Seven Dials, London, WC2H 9LX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
28 Sep 18 – 24 Nov 18, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Price||£10 - £40|
|Website||Click here for more information and tickets|