Isabella leads off the mysterious woman in the veil while the Friar promises to fix everything. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

VIDEO: Strong cast tells the story of how justice solves all problems in ‘Measure for Measure’

Plenty of passion with dollops of comedy to leaven the story as Shakespeare Festival continues

Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure is a difficult play to present clearly but the Shawnigan Players are up to the challenge as finish the second week of their Cowichan Shakespeare Festival at the Gem o’ the Isle in Cowichan Station.

A strong cast, led by Rien Vesseur, who plays the Duke, includes Laura Faulkner as Isabella, Jacob Dennison as Angelo, Bill Levity as Lucio, Jan Ovans as Pompey, Mike Youden as the Provost, and Isaac Landry as Claudio.

When the Duke mysteriously leaves Verona, handing over control of the city to Angelo, it appears to mean a death sentence for young Claudio, who has been imprudent enough to get his girlfriend pregnant.

Angelo, it appears, is a stiff-necked man who wants to rule by the strict letter of the law. However, when he encounters the passionate novice nun, Isabella, who is Claudio’s sister, he finds his emotions are aswirl. Dennison and Faulkner balance each other well in these scenes, as both are able to immerse themselves in a fiery character when called upon to do so.

Meanwhile, the Duke, who hasn’t gone anywhere, has himself as a friar to see more realistically what’s happening in his city. He sees and hears plenty, too, and not all to his liking. Vesseur, with his expressive face, and commanding manner, is particularly suited to this role.

As is usual with Shakespeare, there are comic characters woven into the tale to add colour and brighten what could be some dark corners. In Measure for Measure, the most noticeable of these are Levity as the loutish Lucio, and Ovans as the pimp, Pompey. Both of them revel in playing these wily “baddies” and theatregoers enjoy their performances.

Measure for Measure may not be a Shakespeare play you know, but attend a performance during this festival and you’ll add it to the list of Shakespeare plays you like.

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They don’t realize it yet but Isabella and the Duke are falling in love. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

The Friar gives strict instructions to the Provost (Mike Youden) as the plot thickens. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

Not perhaps quite as well known as some of Shakespeare’s plays, this presentation was a treat. See page 19 for story and see the story at cowichanvalleycitizen.com for gallery of pictures and video by Lexi Bainas.

A furious Angelo (Jacob Dennison) fiercely tells Isabella her brother will die if she will not sleep with him. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

Angelo surprises Isabella with the fierceness of his attachment to her. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

Meanwhile, the Friar meets Claudio’s mistress, who is far along in her pregnancy. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

Angelo is distraught to find he’s in love with Isabella at the same time he plans to have her brother put to death. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

When Isabella (Laura Faulkner) first approaches Angelo about her brother’s death sentence, Angelo (Jacob Dennison) says it’s impossible to change the verdict. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

Pompey, (Jan Ovans, right) is always running into trouble with the law. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

The Duke (Rien Vesseur, right) explains exactly how he plans to disguise himself and slither unseen around his city. See page 19 for a full story about the Shawnigan Players’ production of ‘Measure for Measure.’ (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

Lucio promises Claudio, right, that he’ll make every effort to free him from prison. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

There’s always comic moments in any Shakespeare play and this bawdy trio provide plenty of spicy dialogue. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

Closing the local houses of ill repute is a dreadful act, these two conspirators wail. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

The Duke, centre, hands out his orders before appearing to leave Verona on a trip. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

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