Measure For Measure @ The Barbican Review

Ever sit down in the theatre and realise the play is in Russian? Because that will happen if you visit the Barbican Centre and to see Cheek by Jowl‘s Measure for Measure


It is a tremendous production by a veteran touring company. Shakespeare‘s Measure for Measure can be played as a rather absurd comedy or a horrific tragedy with an almost happy ending. The company is clearly going for the latter, but director Declan Donnellan takes the time to find moments of leveity. 

In between discussion of sexual perversity, crime and the nature of justice we have the sight of a judge sniffing the chair of nun, as he realises he is in love. It is a difficult play to follow, make no mistake. The acting is magnificent, the set’s cool and the music hypnotic. Then there is the fact, that it is in Russian.

Following Shakespearean dialogue on screen while trying to be immersed in the play is hard, nevermind doing it for almost two hours without a break.  For some reason theatre and subtitles don‘t go together nearly as well as movies and subtitles. 

I suspect if you speak Russian, or are very familiar with this play this will be an incredible experience. There is no question it is a well acted, incredibly produced piece of theatre. If you can follow it. 3/5

Review written by Ingimar Sverrisson.

Measure for Measure is currently showing at the Barbican Centre until Saturday 25th April. For more information on the production, visit here…

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