"With an outstretch'd throat I'll tell the world aloud what man thou art."
"Who will believe thee, Isabel? [...] Say what you can, my false o'erweighs your true."
An unjust sentence leads a young woman to plead with a man of power. His offer is simple: her virginity for her brother's life. Measure for Measure doesn't beat around and bush, and Aura Theatre Collective doesn't hide its reality. Shakespeare's play asks the same questions and displays the same violations over 400 years ago which we still find relevant today.
Director Jamielyn Gray handles the piece with charge and purpose. The pace is quick, propelling the story forward and illustrating the pace at which personal affronts become twisted into political leverage. Gender and power relations drive each carefully plotted step, villains and heroes alike caught in the moral grey of exercising one's own influence for personal gain.
Laker Thrasher and Timothy J. Barnes in Measure for Measure.
Laker Thrasher leads the show with fervent compassion and unrelenting dogma. Thrasher does not deny Isabel her kindness or sensitivity, but instead the heroine finds her strength in her vulnerability. Through all the pain, she is driven by love - love for her God, her brother, but most importantly, love for self.
Thrasher's scenes with her assailant Angelo are palpable, even in the looming chapel of the Irish Cultural and Heritage Center. Timothy J. Barnes shifts seamlessly between the charming prince to a darker threat. His monologues seemingly have the power to weave the world around his own desires, pushing, pulling, and shrinking Isabel at will.
Barnes, Kira Renkas, Colin Kovarik, and Randall T. Anderson.
Some of Shakespeare's content proves problematic in a modern context, but with truthful storytelling, Gray stays true to the text yet still acknowledges the full scope of manipulation at play. Theatre has the potential to reveal, provoke, and engage. This piece does it all.
By telling this story in a #MeToo world, Aura Theatre Collective proclaims loud and clear that issues of sexual harassment and assault are not new, but as old and just as prominent in Shakespeare's time as today. The play is brutally honest about the strides we have (and frankly, haven't) made in the centuries between. It is both a mirror to our own societal faults and a call to change. Measure for Measure is not only relevant, but necessary.