Poor Shakespeare! This is not a production in which to savor his wise and wonderful words because most of the time the actors’ diction, enunciation and projection were off by a mile. Produced and directed by Andrea Pandazedes and Rich Wong, the idea was to emphasize sex over corruption. The opening, accompanied by electronic bass and drums, featured two boys kissing, one scantily-clothed girl in a cage gyrating around and the entire cast in various stages of arousal, lasting a good ten minutes.
One was not able to understand what the actors were saying, especially when they rushed their words or dropped their voices. All you could do was watch their histrionics and strain to piece together a story, with no help from well-projected speech.
Director Wong had some novel ideas to fill the stage, one in which involved a chorus of athletic girls doing floor exercises (dance choreographer Anne Mesa) and movable metal cages that created a jail effect in Act II (set design by D.J. Higgenbottom).
Several of the actors stood out for their energy, presence or clear projection. The Duke/Prince/Fryer Adrian Rieder had all of the above (minimal costume design by Becky Doppelt included a fryer’s frock). Escalus (Susan Eiden) had stage presence and good enunciation. Mariano’s (Calub Strul) ethereal look was perfect for the part of Angelo’s husband. The most riveting cast member was Isabella, played by Andrea Pandazedes. Instead of consistent vocal projection, she does project feelings of a sister’s love for her brother condemned to die.
“Measure for Measure” is at Write-Act Repertory Theatre (6128 Yucca Avenue, Hollywood). Performances are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, ending May 23. Tickets are $20 with $10 discount tickets for seniors, students and groups. Refreshments will be served preceding and following the show. For reservations, call (323) 469-3113.