RoughCast Theatre – a bold and comedic Measure for Measure

Despite Shakespeare’s prodigious output, only a relatively small number of his plays are regularly performed, so Roughcast are to be commended for tackling one of his trickiest, problematic plays, and for making such good sense of its Gordian knot of a narrative.

A play that engages with predatory abuse in such a complex and contrary manner is undoubtedly prescient, but its uneasy tone makes for challenging theatrical decisions. Roughcasts solution was a distinct and bold emphasis on the comedic side of the play. Tim Hall had great fun as a pimped up Pompey Bum, as did Simon Evans as the unctuous Lucia, a character that can swiftly become tiresome in less skilled hands – and there were distinct shades of Malcolm Tucker in the manipulative skills of Mark Burridge’s Vincentio. In this judiciously filleted version, the Duke’s machinations were given centre stage, casting a long shadow over Angelo and Isabella, notwithstanding Peter Long and Cathy Wilson’s nicely understated performances.

There were occasions when the broad humour tipped over into pantomime – not least in an odd and distracting rumination on Brexit – but for the most part this was a coherent stab at a challenging play that held the audience’s attention throughout.

By David Vass