America’s turbulent late 1960’s provides the background for an exciting re-envisioning of Shakespeare’s classic “Measure for Measure.” Currently showing at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, the play provides more than a measure of engaging theater. A solid cast brings the text to life in a production that director Ellen Geer stages with seamless transitions, period music, and an expert eye towards making the material both approachable and relevant to current times.
Duke Vincentio (Aaron Henry), renamed Governor for the 1968 California setting, disguises himself as Friar Lodowick to mingle amongst the people and learn where improvements can be made; he appoints Colonel Angelo (Adam Mondschein) to take over while he is “away.” Angelo’s first order of business: ordering Claudio’s (Colin Simon) death due to copulating with Juliet (Crystal Clark) out of wedlock. Lucio (Melora Marshall) fetches Isabella (Willow Geer), Claudio’s sister, from the convent to convince Angelo to let Claudio go.
The entire cast, from leads to ensemble members, completely hold their own and create a believable world full of engaging life. Willow Geer’s piety, vulnerability, and strength are captivating throughout the play; her scenes with Adam Mondschein (as the uncompromising, lustful Angelo) are both disturbing and entertaining. Earnestine Phillips provides powerful vocal moments as the prostitute Mrs. Overdone, and Gerald C. Rivers amuses as “pimp” Pompey. Charlie Howell as the inebriated prisoner, Thomas Ashworth as quirky Elbow, and Leo Knudson as Froth provide excellent comedic release, and Paul Turbiak exudes warmth as a noble, upstanding, and likeable Jailer.
Gillian Doyle as Escalus successfully takes on the traditionally male role, and Melora Marshall as Lucio has so much fun that you can’t help but have fun with her! During Shakespeare’s time, the men played female roles, so it’s great to see a female play a male role with such commitment and humor!
Outstanding theater coupled with a magical outdoor venue make the Theatricum definitely worth a visit. “Measure for Measure” plays until September 1st. Please visit their website and scroll below for additional details.
MEASURE FOR MEASURE
By William Shakespeare
Taylor Jackson Ross
Gerald C. Rivers*
Kristal Adams, Allen Barstow, Michael Bates, Sarah Latin-Kasper, Ben Birmingham, Frank Weidner, Giana Bonmarito, Natasha Buran, Hayley Brown, Charlie Howell, Taylor Jackson Ross, Leo Knudson, Jasmine LaRue, Shalie Mals, Haley Rade, Carolyn Marie Wright, Rachae Thomas, Ian Campbell, Mollyann Davis, Julie Dietz, Miquela Skye Rivers, Mary Eleen Schneider, Trevor David, Cassandra Elwell, Luis Ordaz, Evan Tamayo, Emily McLeod, Hannah Pell, Carolyn Marie Wright
Kristal Adams, Austin Andries, Ian Campbell, Liz Eldridge, Talylor Jackson Ross, Leo Knudson, Savannah Southern-Smith, Evan Tamayo, Rachae Thomas, Paul Turbiak*, Carolyn Marie Wright
Director: Ellen Geer
Stage Manager: Kim Cameron*
Assistant Director: Carolyn Marie Wright
Assistant Director: Crystal Clark
Assistant Stage Manager: Juliana McBride
Costume Designer: Erica D. Schwartz
Properties Master: Shen Heckel
Sound Designer: Ian Flanders
Lighting Designer: Zachary Moore
Lighting Assistant: Lauren Tietz
*Actors Equity Member
The Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum
1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Topanga, CA 90290
(Midway between Pacific Coast Highway and the Ventura Freeway)
June 2 – September 1, 2012
Dates and times vary. Please see website (theatricum.com) for additional information.
Adults: $33 (lower tier—wooden seats); $20 (upper tier—cement seats)
Seniors (60+): $25/$18
Students, Military Veterans, AEA Members: $20/$15
Children (7-12): $10
Chidren 6 and under: Free
Sunday, July 15 at 2:30p.m.
$5 in the lot.
Free on Topanga Canyon Blvd.
Audience members are advised to dress casually (layers are helpful due to temperature changes) and to bring cushions for bench seating. Cushions are available to rent for $1. Snacks are available at the Hamlet Hut, and picnic grounds are available for use before and after performances.