Oklahoma Shakespeare in the Park gets off to an excellent although quiet start to the summer season with Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure” running through June 22, 2013. “Measure for Measure” is not produced frequently, and this is a great opportunity to see the show. Directed by D.Lance Marsh and Assistant Director, Anna Holloway, “Measure for Measure” has an excellent cast of quality actors.
The players, headed by Wil Rogers as Duke Vincentio, Josh Henry as Angelo, and Corrinne Mica as Isabella steer the show through the dips and valleys with ease as well as skill. Unfortunately, due to some sound issues, much of the first act is lost and while the problem is cleared up by the second act, a few of the actors are unable to project well enough to be heard even with the microphones working properly.
Shakespeare is eternally relevant. One can take the play and plunk it down in any setting that may be more relevant to an audience of today. Set in Vienna, “Measure for Measure” takes place in 1969 and the Vienna is in Virginia. Many of the characters are ‘hippies’ and these hippies are very Shakespearean. Any old hippies still around today would see the relevance as particularly apt. There is love, steam, rivalry and all the shenanigans that make Shakespeare universal. Indecent proposals, loosely disguised lovers and indelicate choices are the hallmarks of this production.
Because of the sound difficulties, the performances of Rogers and Mica stand out because they could be understood easily due to projection skills and attitudes. Also, excellent performances are given by Andrew Luzania as Lucio, David Pasto as Escalus/Abhorson, Matthew Eitzen as Elbow, Josh Henry as Angelo, David Fletcher Hall as Pompey, James Tyler Kirk as Friar Thomas/Hippie, J.D. Whigham as Varrius/Hippie, James Ross McCown as Barnardine, Blake Bridges-Alexander as Provost and Ian Maryfield as Claudio. Mistress Overdone looks beautifully played by Eva Dadlez; however she cannot be heard at all even in the second act. Unfortunately the remaining ‘free love’ proponents are unduly influenced creating dullness where excitement should reign.