An Indecent Proposal and a Moral Dilemma
By ANITA GATES | The New York Times
Isabella’s quandary in the Shakespeare play Measure for Measure is a little like Joan’s in the 2012 season of "Mad Men." Should a woman sleep with a man she finds repellent if by doing so she serves a greater good? And how much greater does that good have to be? On "Mad Men," it was a matter of crass commerce, an advertising agency getting its first big auto account. In "Measure for Measure," it is a question of the woman’s saving her brother from execution. But this story being a product of Elizabethan England, when notions of immortal damnation were taken more personally, the playwright cannot let her fall into bed with just anybody. He cannot let her fall into bed at all. Click here to read more.
A solid look at Shakespeare's out-of-balance society
By Ronni Reich | The Star-Ledger
The newly minted ruler grabbed the young, convent-bound woman and traced his fingers along her neck and then her lips as she stood trapped, wide-eyed and trembling.
This image of Angelo's unchecked desire - and Isabella's all-consuming terror - exemplified director Bonnie J. Monte's thought-provoking, high-stakes vision of Vienna in extremis in the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey's production of "Measure for Measure."
This is a production that vividly, searingly illustrates an upended society without promise of redemption. Here, questions of authority, responsibility and righteousness abound - as does the possibility that one should forget all that and chase after pleasure, whatever manipulation and hypocrisy that entails. Click here to read more.
REVIEW: Measure for Measure at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey
By Ruth Ross | News Record / NJ ArtsMaven
See if you can wrap your brain around this plot: a self-righteously moral political leader propositions a young woman for sexual favors, is caught red-handed, sentenced to death and receives a judicial pardon. Sounds like last week’s cable news, right? Well, it’s Shakespeare's Measure for Measure in a nutshell, and the elegant and polished production onstage at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey until August 26 reminds us just how topical the Bard can be, given that four centuries after he wrote the comedy, not much has changed. Click here to read more.
Shakespeare Sizzles in 'Measure for Measure'
By William Westhoven | Madison Patch
Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure” often suffers from bad press, some of it deserved and some merely the byproduct of its dramatic complexities.
Branded as one of the Bard's "problem plays," the comedy is broad and the drama - a rich blend of sex and politics - is both frightening and frighteningly relevant to our times, when leaders operate in a moral vacuum, seemingly obsessed with abusing their power and position. All points in its favor.
On the other hand, the plot is preposterous, even by Shakespeare standards, and its complexities can be a challenge for some viewers. Feminists often take a dim view on its dated treatment of women. These challenges make “Measure for Measure” a tough sell for most companies. Click here to read more.
The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey turns the Bard’s tricky mix of tragedy and comedy into a tale for modern times
By Bob Brown | The Princeton Packet
Midway through its 50th-anniversary season, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey tackles one of Shakespeare's knottiest comedies, a work that challenges the resources of even the bes - as this company has proven to be over the years.
Artistic Director Bonnie Monte directs a cast of 18 in this two-and-a-half hour tour de force. It's a play that has not always been well received over the centuries, partly owing to its frank treatment of sexual desire (not so shocking today) and its un-PC depiction of feminine virtue. The other problem, if you can call it a problem, is its mixture of near-tragedy with comedy.
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A CurtainUp New Jersey Review
Measure for Measure
By Simon Saltzman | CurtainUp New Jersey
I reviewed a production of this play at the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey as recently as 2007. Since the overview of the plot in that review is, except for the inclusion of the opening paragraph, as timely and topical as ever, I will limit my observations to the performances, concept, design and staging.
Following on the heels of their outdoor production of The Comedy of Errors which was interrupted midway of the opening night with a noisy display of fireworks at a nearby country club, the opening night of Measure for Measure was halted midway of Act 1 when a smoke alarm went off creating an added intermission. The full house was ushered out of the theater for approximately thirty minutes - where champagne was served to all until the all-clear announcement. Up to the unexpected halt, the audience was being treated to a delightfully refreshed production of one of Shakespeare most difficult comedies, one that continued to be savored as the performance was resumed.
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Shakespeare's Measure for Measure A Seriously Entertaining Diversion
By Bob Rendell | Talkinbroadway.com
While Measure for Measure is hardly Shakespeare's most cohesive or logically developed play, it has always been, for me, one of his most delightful and richly entertaining ones. In fact, it is that rare breed of play in which inconsistencies (which include a playful surfeit of divergent textures) provide both intellectual stimulation and delightful divertissement.
In case you've forgotten, Measure for Measure is the play in which Vincentio, the Duke of Vienna, unsure of the efficacy of his soft leadership, temporarily cedes his duties and authority to his deputy, Lord Angelo, pretending to have to go abroad. Instead, the Duke disguises himself as a friar and remains in Vienna in order to secretly observe the course of events in his absence. Angelo proves to be a strict, cruel ruler, enforcing existing laws involving morality (i.e., the outlawing of brothels) which the Duke had ignored. Click here to read more.
Review: 'Measure for Measure' at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey
By Rick Busciglio | Examiner.com
An exciting production of Shakespeare's dark comedy "Measure for Measure" opened this past week at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s Kirby Theatre.
One of the Bard's more provocative plays that poses more questions than answers "Measure for Measure" is set for a 3-week only run through August 26th.
Directing an impressive cast of 18, including mostly Equity members, all Broadway, off-Broadway and major regional theatre veterans, including the STNJ, is Bonnie L. Monte. The 2012 season marks her 22 year as the Artistic Director of The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey....both Ms. Monte and the STNJ are certifiable New Jersey cultural treasures.
The term comedy is used here in the broadest sense of the word. The subject matter, and the characters of "Measure for Measure" are clearly more tragic than comic. The play involves deceit, trickery, corruption, lust, mercy, brutality, and justice. At times it is difficult to realize that the conditions and the actions of the characters that seem so current, were actually written by Shakespeare in the early 1600's. The title is believed to be from the Bible, "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."
A good time for all
Shakespeare Theatre stages a 'Measure for Measure' for the masses
By C.W. Walker | Asbury Park Press
When "Measure for Measure" was performed in 1999 at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey on the campus of Drew University at Madison, Monica-gate and the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton loomed large in the headlines. This time, it’s the Jerry Sandusk/Penn State child abuse scandal. Sex, power and corruption: the more things change, the more they stay the same.
So, it’s a good time to re-stage William Shakespeare’s "Measure for Measure,” as director Bonnie J. Monte and her company are no doubt aware. The play was classed as a “comedy” in the folio of 1623, but really, you can apply the label only in very loose terms. True, the body count is very low for Shakespeare: only one minor death and that’s apparently from illness. No blood is spilt and thanks to the “bed trick,” a device also seen in “All’s Well That Ends Well,” no one’s actually raped. Everybody survives relatively intact and even appears to forgive each other in the last, long confrontation scene. But at what cost? Click here to read more.
'Measure for Measure': Old villain feels modern at Shakespeare Theatre
By Peggy McGlone | The Star-Ledger
Sean Mahan likes playing The Bad Guy. This month, Mahan is portraying the hated and hateful Angelo in “Measure for Measure,” Shakespeare’s dark comedy about the abuse of power. The play’s action revolves around Angelo’s demand that the chaste Isabella sleep with him in order to save her brother from being executed. Nice. “He’s a little man who has been given a lot of power,” Mahan says. “If I do my job right, the audience will loathe me.” They will recognize him, too, he says. Angelo’s faults, and the play’s themes - the powerful vs. the powerless, justice vs. mercy - can be found in public life and corporate boardrooms.
Click here to read more.
Shakespeare Theatre production is relevant to modern times
By Bill Nutt | the Daily Record
In “Measure for Measure,” written around 1604, William Shakespeare portrayed a society polarized by two extreme positions. He also depicted people of power who abuse their position for personal gratification and sexual purposes. Who says Shakespeare has no relevance to 21st-century America? Certainly not Bonnie J. Monte, who is directing the production of “Measure for Measure” that runs from Aug. 8 through 26 at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey in Madison. “It’s a really provocative play,” says Monte, who is also the theater’s artistic director. “It’s amazing that it wasn’t written yesterday.”
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Shakespeare Theatre's Measure for Measure, With Bruce Turk, Sean Mahan, Katie MacNichol, Begins Aug. 8 in NJ
By Michael Gioia | Playbill.com