Best Shakespeare Production - 2008
Measure for Measure
Why is Shakespeare still being performed with regularity? Because when it's presented as thoughtfully and passionately as Mustard Seed Theatre's production of Measure for Measure, it teaches you more about yourself than ten years of therapy (and there are more laughs, as well). Director Deanna Jent and her abundantly gifted cast took the raw material of the play (What is justice? What is morality? Who is fit to determine either? Can mercy be taught?) and released each idea into the audience like birds on the wing. Adrift on that lovely iambic pentameter, they flitted and swooped about, inviting us to examine them and apprehend the truth of them, even when that truth was at odds with what we would have ordinarily called truth. And then with as cunning a whistle as you can imagine, Jent summoned these ideas to alight on the stage again, wrapped in the guise of characters buffoonish and bold and crass and desperate and chastened. And then she released them all in a thunderclap of clarity that stilled questions of justice, morality and mercy, leaving only compassion to raise its voice in triumph.