William Shakespeare's dark comedy Measure for Measure opens a unique staging at the Intiman Theatre Oct. 25. The Seattle venue hosts Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Libby Appel and her seven person mounting of the play.
Appel, taken by the over the top nature of Shakespeare's characters and the fact that each evil character has a good counterpart, reworked Measure for Measure's parts to suit seven actors, who could play both good and wicked manifistations. Only one, Laurence Ballard, who plays the Duke of Vienna, keeps his role throughout - the rest are double- and triple-cast. Appel's interpretation, adapted with the help of Lue Morgan Douthit and Scott Kaiser, was first staged at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Black Swan Theatre in 1998.
Ballard recently played the theatre critic taken in by vampires in Conor McPherson's St. Nicholas at A Contemporary Theatre. Also in the cast are Susan Appel (Isabella/Mistress Overdone), Timothy McCuen Piggee (Angelo/Abhorson), David Scully (Lucio/Friar Peter/Barnardine), Golden Child's Julyana Soelistyo (Julietta/Provost/Elbow), Amy Thone (Mariana/Escalus/Francisca) and Jos Viramontes (Claudio/Pompey).
In Measure for Measure, the Duke of Vienna seeks to return order to his city, now overrun with brothels and prostitues. He announces he will leave the city and appoint a virtuous judge Angelo as the ruler. Secretly he disguises himself as friar and watches as the supposed moral man condemns young Claudio to death for getting his fiance pregnant, while Angelo seeks to exchange Claudio's death with a chance to sleep with the man's sister Isabella, who is about to enter holy orders.
The design team features William Bloodgood (sets), Deborah M. Dryden (costumes), Lap-Chi Chu (lighting) and Todd Barton (sound, original music). Marianne Roberts is the choreographer. Tickets are $42-$23.50. The Intiman Theatre is located in the Seattle Center at 201 Mercer St. For reservations, call (206) 269-1900. The Intiman Theatre is on the web at www.seattlesquare.com/Intiman.
-- By Christine Ehren