The Rose Theatre is an atmospheric, historic venue where actors can feel inspired by the early
productions of Shakespeare and Marlowe that were performed there, but it is also a restrictive
physical space, with the archaeological remains of the original site dominating the theatre. In this
production, director Brice Stratford attempts to overcome these limitations by having the actors
continually invade the audience’s space.
The production mines the pantomime potential of Shakespeare’s play about the moral censorship
of Vienna’s hypocritical deputy leader. Mistress Overdone (Elizabeth Bloom) flirts with male
members of the audience, Vincentio (Stratford) relies on one unsuspecting woman to look after his
cane and Angelo (Dan Van Garrett) stuffs paper down the shirt of another man in the front row.
The technique runs the risk of being overused and relies on the good nature of one audience
member who is referred to as a ‘whore’, but it also makes the play more shocking when it suddenly
shifts to more sinister scenes.
Contrast is the order of the day too for the charismatic cast. Thomas Vilorio’s camp and clowning
Lucio gets many laughs and riles Stratford’s wise and suitably dominant Vincentio. Meanwhile,
[highlighter color=”orange”]Suzanne Marie’s chaste, sincere Isabella is the perfect foil for the hypocrite Angelo[/highlighter], who Van
Garrett brings alive with his terrifying steely expression.