Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Measure for Measure at Antaeus

William Shakespeare's  Measure for Measure goes up in Glendale.  As a major fan of Glendale's professional theatre company, Antaeus, it's difficult to report on a production that falls short of expectations. 
What possessed Antaeus to choose this play and decide to double and triple cast with actors who come on board with ranges from professional experience to what feels like no experience at all is a mystery.  

Paul Culos and Bo Foxworth
Photo by Jenny Graham
Paul Culos as The Duke of Vienna (after a curtain raiser that rivals Sodom and Gommorah) decides to take a leave of absence and hands the keys to the kingdom over to his 'trusted' pal, Angelo (Ramón de Ocampo).  Almost immediately, it comes to Angelo's attention that Claudio (Ramón de Ocampo) has  dallied with Juliet (not THAT Juliet, but Bo Foxworth! ready to deliver any minute!) his true love with whom...  unfortunately, he has not yet tied the knot. Premarital sex flies in the face of laws of the land. 
Naturally,  Claudio must die! It's in the book!

The interesting casting choice for Ramón de Ocampo to play Angelo as well as the miscreant Claudio is simply confusing.. Though some of the cast in this production possess protean skills enough to pull off more than one character, for the most part, not only do they not fool us, but even with a program, gender pronouns bouncing all over the place like anything,  keeping everyone straight is really no fun at all.  Paul Eiding's gorgeous full beard as Elbow, also playing a number of other guys, leaves us to  attempt to abandon our inner critic and dive right in to follow the story.  When it comes to iambic pentameter the marginal skills of some players just don't make it.  To his credit, looking a bit like Stephen Colbert, Paul Culos (disguised as a holy father) manages to pull off some couplets. 

I so want to report with joy the work that Antaeus does. Sadly,  ten minutes into the show I had the feeling that the best was probably not to come. Duty bound, I made an effort to follow the wonky plot and character challenges.  

Fredrica Naciemento's stark rectangular set features the scales of justice in The Duke's office illuminated in red, a harbinger of what's to come. No kidding.

Certainly, co-director Armin Shimmerman is well schooled and scholarly when it comes to the Bard. However, squeezing the text out of this cast was only occasionally clear and communicative.  Why co-direction with Elizabeth Swain was an idea is an unknown.  

The odd somewhat modern dress costumes by Allison Dillard are terrific. 

Thank goodness Antaeus's next production is such an American classic that unless we wind up in a drag bar in Lauguna Beach in the year 2525, The Time of Your Life, an all time favorite of mine by William Saroyan, will deliver to us a San Francisco waterfront bar in the 1930s with denizens to match.  It's a great opportunity for strong character roles via Saroyan's love for the common man.

Measure for Measure by
William Shakespeare
Antaeus Theatre Company
Kiki and David Gindler 
Performing Arts Center
110 East Broadway
Glendale, CA 91205
Performances: Feb. 21 – April 6
Thursdays at 8 p.m.
Fridays at 8 p.m.:
February, 28; March 6, 13, 20, 27; April 3
Saturdays at 8 p.m.:  
Feb. 22, 29; March 7, 14, 21, 28; April 4
Sundays at 2 p.m.: , Feb. 23; March 8, 15, 22, 29; April 5(dark March 1)
Mondays at 8 p.m.: March 9, 16, 23, 30; April 6 (dark Feb. 18, Feb. 24 and March 2) 
Tickets and Information:
(818) 506-1983 or

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