27th March – 31st March 2012
Director: Jacqui Adams
A crackdown on immorality leads to a death sentence for unmarried father-to-be Claudio. His sister Isabella – a soon-to-be ordained novice – begs for his life, and a strong-in-public, weak-in-private leader makes a literally soul-destroying offer.
Locating the play to 1960 takes it to a year when sexuality, obscenity and legality were under scrutiny – what is acceptable? What is natural? What is right? What is moral? (And what can we get away with if no-one ever finds out…). The tone would show off a cold, slow, nightclub singer in a smoky spotlight jazz mood, men in sharp suits, women with curves shown off to their best (the ones that aren’t hiding them under nuns’ habits, of course), and a minimal and adaptable set.
Duke Vincentio: (M, any age) Ruler of Vienna, he absents himself, places Angelo in charge in his place (overlooking the rightful deputy Escalus), and disguises himself as a Friar to watch what happens. A Machiavellian character with ostensibly good intentions, but what are his true motives?
Lord Angelo: (M, any age) Becomes ruler in Vincentio’s stead despite his protestations. Angelo literally has power thrust upon him, and we all know what power does…
Isabella: (F, late teens/early 20s) We meet Isabella as she is about to join a convent, but she is dragged away to plead for her brother’s life after he is threatened with execution for sex outside marriage. Pure, innocent, strong, principled, vulnerable, desirable.
Claudio: (M, Early to mid 20s) In prison for having sex with his (in all but name) wife. Desperate, wants to do the right thing but torn between his love for his sister and his fear for his life.
Escalus: (F, 30s – flexible) An elder of the city, rightfully should have been offered Angelo’s role in Vincentio’s absence. Loyal to the Duke but cannot disobey Angelo – torn.
Provost: (M/F, any age) Prison Governor and Justice. Liberal, but – like Escalus – responsible for carrying out Angelo’s orders.
Lucio: (M, Early to mid 20s) A ‘fantastic’, cheeky, ducker and diver, friends in low places and enemies in high ones, but on the side of the angels.
Mistress Overdone: (F, 30s and up) A 1960 Cynthia Payne, the aptly-named Mistress Overdone, much-married brothel-keeper worried about her ‘business’ going under.
Elbow: (M, any age) A constable, malapropism-tastic and endearingly stupid, Elbow is the joint in the weak arm of the law.
Mariana: (F, late 20s/30s) Broken and betrayed when we meet her, by the end of the play Mariana holds the key to Angelo’s downfall, and his happiness.
Plus Gentlemen, Nuns, Friars, Bawds for doubling or ensemble playing.