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Arts and Entertainment

Sex and Politics in Measure for Measure at A Noise Within

Karron Graves and Geoff Elliott in Measure for Measure. (Photo courtesy of A Noise Within.)
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Measure for Measure is currently running as part of A Noise Within's 19th season. Sex, politics, and sexual politics drive William Shakespeare's characters to coup and clique amid moody corruption and tender sympathy. Under the sleek and shadowy direction of Michael Murray, this postmodern-before-its-time classic is an urbane stew of contemporary flare thick with the harnessed energy of veteran company performers.The production brims with flawlessly executed performances. Karron Graves leads the cast in the challenging role of Isabella, an unlikely heroine that is neither self-assured nor completely endearing. Contending with the inward dissonance of this central character, she plays the wide-eyed fledgling nun with an unsettling blend of calculated restraint and earnest cunning. Graves is a projectile weapon on stage - she diligently maintains her hold on Isabella, gathers dramatic momentum, then showers the audience with an explosive release or passion and tears that continue to sting the heart well after the curtain has fallen.

Geoff Elliott is a tantalizing guilty pleasure in the antagonist role of Angelo, the formidable acting deputy. Elliott plays the part of bad guy like a Shakespearean Gordon Gekko - mostly unlikable, certainly threatening, but deliciously thrilling none the less. Elliott's delivery is striking as he expertly injects an undercurrent of mocking irony into Angelo's weakness-tinged aggression.