The Porters of Hellsgate Offer a Solid Measure For Measure

Jacques Freydont (Escalus) and Justin Michael Terry (Angelo)

For good or bad, the true measure of a man can be seen in his actions when he thinks no one is looking. It’s a notion that The Porters of Hellsgate explore in Shakespeare’s Measure For Measure, the company’s current offering at the Whitmore Theatre in North Hollywood. The outing is a solid effort, more darkly insistent than comic, emphasizing the oppressive overtones in the play. The resulting interpretation makes an unmistakable statement about one’s personal responsibility in the face of authority, especially when that power is being wrongly interpreted. 

Angelo’s (Justin Michael Terry) actions speak to the letter of the law yet the flaws in his character allow for compromises that belie his duty to religious order. For Isabella (Jennifer Bronstein), there can be no compromise, and for the Duke (Thomas Bigley), the avoidance of duty has set in motion compromises that result in moral chaos and consequences that can no longer be avoided. Terry, Jamey Hecht (Pompey), Sean Faye (Elbow), Kate O’Toole (Mariana), and Michael Hoag (playing several utility roles), all give respectable performances, as does a slightly out of breath Bigley who also directs. Gus Krieger’s eccentric Lucio has some terrific moments, though his vocal pattern of throwing away lines makes it challenging to catch all of his words.

A stark white cross hangs over the otherwise austere set design somberly rendered in black and shadows. A long, narrow jail cell, an isolated desk, a staircase, and platform on high create strong visual impact in the black box. It is one of the Porters’ most effective elements; their ability to work with black box design restrictions and skillfully reinvent the space. Small details like a few bricks and a stained glass window painted on the wall do not go unnoticed. Nick Neidorf uses subtle but unmistakable sound cues to enhance the production. “Für Elise” – coincidentally rumored to have been written by Beethoven about a woman who turned down his marriage proposal – opens the play, female Gregorian chants float through at intermission, and the distant sounds of tortured souls in offstage jail cells loom in the background.

MEASURE FOR MEASURE
The Porters of Hellsgate, through October 28, Friday and Saturday nights at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. The Whitmore Theatre, 11006 Magnolia Blvd, N. Hollywood, CA 91601. Tickets are $20, $15 for students/seniors 60+/AEA. Click Here for reservations and more information.

Photo courtesy of Thomas Bigley

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: MEASURE FOR MEASURE (PORTERS OF HELLSGATE): 100% – SWEET : LA Bitter Lemons

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