Measure for Measure

  • Katharine Goodland
  • John O’Connor
Part of the A Directory of Shakespeare in Performance Series book series (DSP)


Measure for Measure … was set in the Vienna of Emperor Franz Joseph, and costumed with somber intensity by Daphne Dare. The black frock coats dominated the décor, relieved, without sharp contrast, by the browns and grays of military uniforms, the pastels of ladies’ gowns, and the unassertive clothes of the people of the city. It was a setting against which the clear white of Isabellas habit seemed as startling and singular as the scarlet finery of Mistress Overdone. This was a remarkably straightforward production. Mr. Phillips seems to have insisted only on the letter of the text, letting his actors discover its spirit for themselves. I could find no evidence, beyond setting and décor, of an encompassing directorial interpretation. The result was a presentation at once as puzzling and as fascinating as the play itself … William Hutt did not attempt to play the Duke as anything other than an enigma, but he did show that this enigma was a force rather than a character. He played the Duke as Authority, implacable, apparently capricious, frequently impersonal, inscrutable, and secret, not obliged to offer answers or explanations, morally self-sufficient. Mr. Hutt did not, of course, attempt to play an abstraction. As the agent of authority he was a man, but, by following the clear evidence of what the Duke does, rather than trying to find nonexistent evidence of why he does it, he turned attention toward the nature of authority itself, which tends to obscure the character of the individual who wields it… Mr. Phillips had made impeccable and imaginative arrangements for the physical stage, its traffic, its groupings and its accoutrements. The result was a production of great physical clarity and beauty, made memorable by the players’ sensitive examination of the text. (Berners W. Jackson, Shakespeare Quarterly, 27 [1976]: 31–32)


Dance Floor Strobe Light Sensitive Examination Social Action Theatre Military Uniform 
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Copyright information

© Katharine Goodland and John O’Connor 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katharine Goodland
  • John O’Connor

There are no affiliations available

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