MEASURE FOR MEASUREPushkin Theatre, Moscow
After William Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure”
Translated by Osia Soroka
Director – Declan Donnellan
Set designer – Nick Omerod
Lighting designer – Sergei Skornetsky
Music – Pavel Akimkin
Choregrapher – Irina Koshuba
Cast: Valery Pankov, Yuri Rumyantsev, Andrei Kuzichev, Alexander Feklistov, Pyotr Rykov, Alexander Matrosov, Sergei Lambanin, Nikolai Kislichenko, Igor Teplov, Alexi Rakhmanov, Alla Haliulina, Olga Vecherik, Anastasia Lebedeva.
Duration – 3 h 30 min
Age restriction – 18+
Declan Donnellan, a regular British resident of Russian theatres, staged a favourite Shakespeare of his together with a cast of his favourite Moscow actors. Twenty years ago he already directed Measure for Measure in a theatre of his own, Cheek by Jowl, yet it is today that the play looks especially refreshing when combined with the complex relationship between power and man in Russia.
Nick Ormerod is Donnellan’s regular colleague. His laconic set is inhabited by a turmoil of a crowd with certain characters singled out from it in every new episode. The director resorts to artful scene editing in order to deal with plentiful discrepancies and strange things of the original. The characters look up-to-date. Every one of them represents a certain type, easy to recognize, no matter whether they are wearing a grey suite or a monk’s robe. Those are the things for all times – the cup of power being passed from one person to another, voluntarism, and “how difficult it is to be good” problem. Yet placed in the local Russian context they obtain a specific meaning, not entirely painless.
“Measure for Measure” is a play about a ruler who doesn’t know how to rule. He decides to change his image behind another person’s mask and take a detached view of the society he lives and works in. And he discovers incredible and horrifying things. He finds himself in a monastery and a prison where he starts to see the different aspects of things. He finds out what it means to live like an ordinary man. And this becomes a highly educative experience for him. I think this experience hasn’t lost its instructiveness up to the present day. Our production mirrors the modern Western Europe, to be more precise, Austria. And that’s why the characters are dressed in modern clothes.
From Declan Donnellan’s interview to Novosti News Aagency
The mise-en-scenes are a lacework. The atmosphere is ozone. The musical score is a waltz. No one doubts Declan Donnellan’s exquisite mastership. But more importantly he managed to convincingly and forcefully present the conflict between the mean powers-that-be and the people who crave for mercifulness; between the double-dealer and those who are misfortune to live under his reign. Shakespeare gave a for-all-times definition of the opposition, its meaning having infinitely increased nowadays.
Marina Tokareva, Novaya Gazeta
The director doesn’t insist on the intensity of the experience of the psychological nuances or on the continuity of the “through-action”. His production is fractionized into a series of swiftly changing spectacular episodes. The tempo of the scenic action is accelerated to the effect that no time is left for philosophizing about the fortunes of the state and other kinds of transcendentalism. Donnellan doesn’t try to make a break-through in social studies or to find underlying messages in Shakespeare. Instead he translates the text into the fascinating and side-splitting performance. This Viennese life all too evidently unfolds in accordance with the scenario that was written and memorized a long, long time ago. It is perceived as granted, with all the imperfections of the “state vector”. Instead of prosecutorial zeal there is comical detachment.
Irina Alpatova, Teatral
The British director staged the play by the British author only to come up with a recognizably Russia story. The original text was cut but not one word was added to it. The appeal to observe the moral principles have the result that a couple of people are properly punished on the charges that could be brought against millions. The people are silently watching the impetuous rise and as impetuous fall of the very important persons, assuming after one of Shakespeare’s characters that it’s better to be stupid and free than smart and caged. The burden of power proves to be hard to bear and few have managed to carry this weight without losing the sense of reality.
Tatiana Filippova, RBK-Daily