When you first think about playwrights and theater in general, one of the first names that always comes to mind is William Shakespeare and his many great works over his lifetime. One of his less known works “Measure for Measure” is rarely talked about and rarely is adapted to the stage by theatrical groups due to his more notable works like “Romeo and Juliet” almost guaranteeing a mass appeal outside of the more dedicated of his followers. So, you could imagine my shock when The Actors of the London Stage decided to do a dedicated show of “Measure for Measure” on UNC Charlotte’s campus. This was a great opportunity to give a bit more spotlight to a less known play and maybe gain a small appreciation to his less acclaimed works. So, with much anticipation and an open mind I sat in the Black Box Theatre and prepared to be amazed.
As the lights dimmed and the crowd settled, we were greeted by our five actors (yes five people comprised the entirety of this play’s cast), where they gave us a quick reciting of the play’s opening and each of their roles in the play. As there were only five actors, they each had a minimum of three characters they had to perform, and while you may think this can be a massive problem, I am happy to say that each actor was able to firmly establish the exact moments of them switching character through well timed voice changes, body language, use of changing places on stage and clothing. They even embraced the fact that these transitions would be awkward or comical and openly acknowledged this in their mannerisms on stage. All of this combined created a visually appealing, enjoyable and sometimes slightly comical (when appropriate), experience for the audience. This self-aware approach to their work made the play very enjoyable and added a nice flair to the performance.
When it came to the atmosphere of the night, I felt like the Black Box Theatre was the best setting for this performance as its closer quartered proximity allowed for the audience to be immersed into the performance. This is key for tragedies as it creates a sense of emotion for crowd as if you are involved in the actions and outcomes that occur in the play. This also was the best due to the size of the cast itself as it would look out of place if five people were on a relatively big stage. It also does great for setting a visual of the spaces in the play itself as most of the scenes are in small rooms, prisons, crowded streets, and small churches. This was a nice touch and showed that the environment can enhance the show.
Overall, this show was a treat to experience and is a testament of this troupe’s talent and history. Keep this group in mind because they simply are not a group to miss as they are capable actors and truly know the flair that Shakespeare had to offer.