Friday, 26 February 2010

Measure of Greatness!

It's always best just to get back on the ass and in contrast to the disappointment of last night's Dream I caught a cracking Measure for Measure at the Almeida tonight with a stunning performance by Rory Kinnear as Angelo.
The turns the play into a parable for our litigious times suggesting clearly the folly of using fear as an instrument for programing society into conformism. It may be bawdy vice which is the excuse for a clampdown in Angelo's Vienna, but it's easy to spot director Michael Attenborough's parallel sniper fire at the alienating protectionism that inhibits debate, argument and idealism in our own times and ultimately destroys those who've strung the bow too tightly.

Nobody plays the revenge of the playground reject like Kinnear (his Malvolio - when it comes -should be knockout.) Comprehensive when surrounded by the law, but incomprehensible when asked to temper his own authority with justice, this is an Angelo whose repressed discomfort is revealed in every glance, gesture and sigh. As his narrow, but unswerving logic and monstrous denial of his own desires fatally explodes, he's left grinning sheepishly quite unable to end his isolation or to empathise with those he's abused. It's a chilling portrait of a dangerous loner, sure of themselves, but unable to understand how anything can be mutual.

There's exceptional support from Anna Maxwell Martin's fierce campaigning, but ultimately stranded, Isabella, Ben Miles' socially experimenting Duke - whose bored manipulations seem, by the end, as malevolent and dangerous as his deputy's hypocrisy. Whilst Lloyd Hutchinson's wheeling Lucio, without ever promoting an image of virtue, surprisingly becomes as close as the production can have to a hero. His pragmatism and philosophical acceptance of the relationship between power and corruption, bleak and nihilistic as it is, stands in stark contrast to the moral posturing of the rest and gives us hope that a world exists and thrives beyond the strictures of the hardline.

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