The Placer Performance Calendar


Great Local Shows - Theatrical Reviews

Title Measure for Measure
Organization FreeFall Stage
Date(s) of show July 27 - August 26, 2012
Reviewer Dick Frantzreb
Review I have always felt that I needed to read a Shakespearean play before seeing it performed (or at least read a summary) in order to be able to follow the action. That was not necessary for this production from Free Fall Stage, because writer and director, Tana Aivaz Colburn, has taken Shakespeare’s meaning and converted it to a style of English more reminiscent of the writing of Jane Austen. And to make that work better, the play has been moved from 1500s Vienna to England of the early 1800s.And I must say that I was impressed with the quality of the adaptation. It preserved much of Shakespeare’s wit, elegance of expression (in similes and metaphors, for example), – as well as his philosophic observations on life and death, justice and mercy, and sin and righteousness. More importantly, the adaptation gives the actors the opportunity to act (rather than merely recite lines), and there was a lot of outstanding acting, some of the best I’ve seen lately. There was even an heroic attempt to maintain British accents, and though some faded as the play proceeded, several kept their accents consistent. But with or without accent, the words could be easily understood, giving clarity to the play’s action and emotions.
Although the set was static (probably an unavoidable limitation in this venue), the costumes were very well done and added a lot to the theatrical magic. But in the final analysis, the success of this enterprise rested on the writing. There’s no question that much of the enduring appeal of Shakespeare is in the quality of his language, but it can’t be fully appreciated without annotation of the archaic words and obscure references, so some of Shakespeare’s sharpest wit and most brilliant use of language is lost on the unprepared audience. But Ms. Colburn has saved us from this disappointment, and made it easy to follow what is an engaging plot, and appreciate the wisdom and passion that are an important part of what this most famous playwright has given us. This is indeed Shakespeare, and an entertaining introduction to one of his less familiar plays.

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