Onstage: Measure for Measure

Rick Pender

It might surprise you to learn that Shakespeare's tale of hypocrisy and extreme morality is considered a comedy. Left in charge of Vienna, the puritanical Angelo condemns Claudio to be executed for getting his fiancée pregnant before their wedding. (Even in 1604, when Shakespeare wrote "Measure for Measure," this wasn't a capital offense.) When Isabella, Claudio's virtuous sister about to enter a convent, pleads his case to Angelo, the solution he offers is for her to give up her chastity.

That's funny? Well, not really, but things have a way of working out, and the bad guy gets his comeuppance.

Along the way, the action is enlivened with comic scenes, sassy banter and funny wordplay. Director Brian Phillips and Cincinnati Shakespeare Company have transported the tale to Prohibition-era America, a time of forbidden vice and double standards that makes for a meaningful setting.

DETAILS: Thursday-Sunday through May 26. $22-$38. 719 Race St., Downtown, 513-318-2273, cincyshakes.com.

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