Measure for Measure (The Public Theater)
Closed 2h 10m
Measure for Measure (The Public Theater)
63

Measure for Measure (The Public Theater) NYC Reviews and Tickets

63%
(88 Reviews)
Positive
51%
Mixed
27%
Negative
22%
Members say
Ambitious, Confusing, Disappointing, Quirky, Clever

About the Show

Elevator Repair Service, the Obie-winning company behind 'Gatz,' returns to The Public to celebrate their 25th season with a new production of Shakespeare’s dark comedy about vice and hypocrisy.

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Member Reviews (88)

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15
Excruciating, Torturous, Ineffective, Confounding

See it if ... see it if... if... well... umm... I got nothin'.

Don't see it if you have any respect for Shakespeare, The Public, the Elevator Repair Service or your time. [This ill-conceived MforM is a total misfire.] Read more

57
Indulgent, Slow, Quirky, Confusing

See it if You are very, very familiar with Shakespeare's plot, can tolerate drastically reimagined classics, enjoy what may be creative gimmicks,

Don't see it if You want your Bard done in linear style that doesn't challenge, don't like edited, rethought productions that can be hard to follow

Critic Reviews (30)

The New York Times
October 10th, 2017

"I usually lower my expectations for 'Measure'...But even in over-conceptualized versions, there’s usually at least one, thought-provoking portrayal that illuminates. Mr. Collins’s production does feature one such performance, from Mr. Shepherd. Mostly, though, it translates the challenges of a notorious problem play into ‘oh, why not?’ parlor tricks and slapstick. Much of the intermissionless, two-hours-plus show is conducted at a rushing tempo that defies comprehension."
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Time Out New York
October 10th, 2017

"As far as language goes, the production is often unintelligible...That doesn’t matter in the clown bits, but one misses important information and poetry in other scenes...Yet the show has many compensatory assets...Several performances are delightful...And the production is funny in unexpected ways...Audiences who don’t know 'Measure for Measure' may well find this version confusing. Those who know the text well, however, will find much to enjoy in ERS’s pointed run-through."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
October 10th, 2017

"It’s thrilling to see a group of artists throw themselves into a project where there’s the actual risk that the whole thing might go terribly wrong...In this case, some things have gone pretty seriously wrong...There’s so much potential resonance here that it’s maddening to watch the ERS production skate across the play’s surface...Collins is more interested in the game he’s playing with Shakespeare’s text than in its content...Some of the ERS ensemble do manage to rise above the gimmickry."
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Deadline
October 10th, 2017

“A mess that lands primarily as a showcase for the amazing Scott Shepherd…The effect of John Collins’ gimmicky production is breathless, as if to say let’s race through this and just get to the good parts. But the good parts are nearly as incomprehensible (except when Shepherd is commanding a scene). With the language – especially the good parts – spun into a word smoothie, I couldn’t really tell what the point is.”
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The Washington Post
October 13th, 2017

"Some virtually unrecognizable version of itself, like an operating room full of inept plastic surgeons botching a facelift...Elevator Repair Service proves here to be wholly out of its element with Shakespeare...The modern-dress actors spit out much of Shakespeare’s language as if they’re in an Olympic speed-reading contest...With this production’s silly affectations, Elevator Repair Service turns a problem play into a merely ridiculous one."
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Theatermania
October 10th, 2017

"There's much to recommend 'Measure for Measure' as a play for our times...But there's somewhat less to recommend Elevator Repair Service's new production. John Collins directs the play at a frenetic pace. Though this does make for some high-octane performances, the play's language is sometimes rendered incomprehensible by the rapid-fire delivery...While Elevator Repair Service deserves kudos for pushing the play to its limits, we wish it were a little more measured in pushing us to ours."
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BroadwayWorld
October 14th, 2017

"The lack of clarity seems intentional...The absence of understandable wit makes the evening seem a frenetic blur...But then everything slows down for an emotional scene...If at this point a viewer can moved by the story and characters, it is most likely from previous familiarity with the play...This 'Measure for Measure' appears to be a case of concept over content....If you're not satisfied with the results, you may still find the effort quite admirable."
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Lighting & Sound America
October 16th, 2017

"It's more like 'Highlights from Measure'...Sargeant and Groff are giving what are by far the production's standout performances...Otherwise, under Collins' direction, it's anything goes. Admittedly, 'Measure' is a confounding work...While most productions try to find some rationale for these events, Collins and company throw up their hands, dispensing with psychology altogether...This production has everything but a baseline interest in the text."
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Talkin' Broadway
October 10th, 2017

"A wildly inventive and often thrilling production...Truly, if the entire cast and the timing of the performances were not so carefully aligned, the entire enterprise would implode on itself and wind up as nothing more than a clever piece of gimmickry. The comedy is spun to the height of ridiculousness, and at a sacrifice to Shakespeare's language...Elevator Repair Service has pulled off a remarkable feat here by using the pacing of the play in support of delineating its serious intent."
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Theater Pizzazz
October 18th, 2017

“Leave it to the adventurous Elevator Repair Service company to take a challenging Shakespearean text like ‘Measure for Measure’...and turn it into a wacky and wonderful romp...The text is the star of the show – as spoken by the cast and as projected simultaneously on the upstage wall...There’s method in this director’s madness. Ultimately, all these clashing styles coalesce into a glorious, zany, exuberant, hodge-podge whole.”
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CurtainUp
October 10th, 2017

"ERS takes the play to a new space of feeling and being letting its tragic and comic elements intersect provocatively...The shenanigans interspersed into scenes add zest, but the helter-skelter pacing of the dialogue may have you feeling somewhat confused...It's almost impossible to absorb the text and the stage proceedings simultaneously — but it's exhilarating and fun...Although the ERS venture is off-beat, it remains faithful to Shakespeare's essential dramaturgy."
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Front Row Center
October 11th, 2017

"Under the direction of John Collins, the cast delivers their lines with such speed that for much of the two hours (no intermission) they are unintelligible...This cast gives it everything they have. The pacing, however, does them in. We cannot follow what we do not understand...The plot is deciphered enough for us to understand the conclusion. By the time it arrives, however, we are almost mad with the desire to flee the sound of this nearly consonant free buzzing and rush out into the night."
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Stage Buddy
October 19th, 2017

“A screwball, slapstick rendering of the Bard’s problem play that is in turns hilarious, bizarre, and inscrutable...For Shakespeare purists, this interpretation may strike as overly-avant, and complete novices may find themselves in the dark, but for the many of us somewhere in the middle, it’s a one-of-a-kind tribute. It demonstrates the endless ways Shakespeare can be reinvented and reasserted as a salient voice for our time and for centuries to come.”
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Front Mezz Junkies
October 10th, 2017

"Their tactics fail to engage, and causes the brain, well, at least my brain, to tune out...It is a unique and cerebral approach, filled with wit and cleverness, and I applaud ERS for their bravery, their theoretical ideas, and their willingness to experiment. Unfortunately, the poetry and the musicality is erased, and we are left with a confusing chaotic mess that at moments feel too speedy for its own good, and deadly slow and dull at the same time."
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Exeunt Magazine
October 17th, 2017

"What they have done is stretch the text in some parts and, more often, compress it in others...The pacing can feel more capricious than meaningful, and sometimes flippant...The company’s signature, experimental approach to text here yields a deliberately radical result that sometimes is right for the text, and sometimes seems more in the service of the company’s concerns but it does deliver a 'Measure for Measure' for our satisfaction-driven, impatient, 21st century brains."
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T
October 10th, 2017

"Medium is the message here and that message is pure Shakespeare and pure and unrefined 'Measure for Measure.' Under Collins’s inventive and meticulous direction, the play 'gathers to a greatness like the ooze of oil crushed' to a grandeur that defines itself for a new era...ERS’s 'Measure' is itself an exercise in rhythm...Shakespeare’s words scroll across the set in ERS’s 'Measure for Measure' and demand to be reckoned with in new and sometimes uncomfortable ways."
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New York Theater
October 10th, 2017

“There are watchable moments, occasional visual appeal in the design, even some touching scenes. But it’s difficult to figure out – or appreciate — what director John Collins is up to…To me, this ‘Measure for Measure’ counts as a missed opportunity...Moments of provocative drama must compete with the broad theatricality of the ERS brand, which can be fun, but persists in this production for more than two hours without intermission, and mostly without letup.”
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Theatre's Leiter Side
October 12th, 2017

“ERS's version of the play…while faithful to the script,…is a mélange of avant-garde tropes that eventually become more important than the play itself. This isn't to deny that occasional flashes of insight occur…The tradeoff, though, is a show so bogged down in gimmickry that you lose interest in the narrative and instead focus on directorial 'ingenuity.'…This 'Measure for Measure' is a solipsistic exercise that serves more to obscure than clarify what's already difficult enough to comprehend.”
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Times Square Chronicles
October 14th, 2017

"This troubled play has become even more so...As soon as this show started, it went into gibberish...The actors played around with the language in tonality, most of it shouting or in hideous southern drawls...Not a whole lot of acting was going on unless bizarre slapstick counts...The only moment in the entire production that truly felt relevant was when Isabella and Claudio are in prison...If I had not known the play, I would have been lost in translation."
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The Huffington Post
October 12th, 2017

"Collins has all cast members hurl themselves into what increasingly turns into an off-putting travesty...Each of thesps is only intermittently allowed to look like more than adequate participants in a third-rate SNL skit. It’s as if, concentrating on Shakespeare for the first time, Collins reckoned that the vaunted canon isn’t much good. As a result, he figured that having his insouciant way with 'Measure' would allow him to call attention to Shakespeare’s sorry deficiencies."
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Wolf Entertainment Guide
October 12th, 2017

"Rattling off Shakespearean dialogue as if in a speed-talking contest? That’s just too much of a leap, and apart from occasional laughs and one scene that takes hold emotionally for a short spell, this interpretation is a misguided exercise. That doesn’t mean that the cast isn’t worthy. Working against the text, the actors do their best to interpret the zany plot...They seem to be at home with their top-speed discourse. Of course, this thoroughly vitiates the beauty of Shakespeare’s language."
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Cultural Weekly
October 17th, 2017

"Collins imposes a meta sensibility, throwing out conventional staging...The cast races through the dialogue striking exaggerated stereotypical poses and posturing in mock 'Shakespearean' style...Just as Collins’ quirky concept wears thin, the speed-freak patter slows down during the jailhouse scene...The contrast increases the emotional resonance and temporarily brings a stunning authenticity to this 'Measure,' but the rest is a showy, if interesting gimmick."
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Daily Beast
October 10th, 2017

"As well as an exercise in animating the original text, this production, directed with typical imaginative invention by John Collins, is an exercise in what text is, and how it should be performed...As the Duke (Scott Shepherd) weaves all manner of plot and counter-plot, and the play ends cleverly in total chaos as loose ends are hastily woven together. The company look askance and exhausted—Shakespeare has merrily done them in, and us too."
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Financial Times (UK)
October 11th, 2017

"As if pressing a fast-forward button, the performers periodically rattle through huge chunks of dialogue at warp speed...Collins thereby sacrifices intelligibility for screwball energy...Intricate even by the Bard’s standards. Bewilderment thus seems inevitable here...Several lively performances nonetheless bring out the play’s bawdy spirit...Simpson’s flair for slapstick also stands out...This production otherwise struggles to carry off its hefty textual burden."
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T
October 22nd, 2017

"It’s like Howard Hawks’s 'His Girl Friday' on speed…You’ll be able to follow the general shenanigans…An exciting version of one of Shakespeare’s seldom-performed problem plays. Director Collins and ERS have chosen to make the ribald shenanigans take a backseat to the staging, which is filled with delightful contradictions and decisions that go from the sublime to the ridiculous…Shakespeare purists might wag a finger at but more adventurous theatergoers will end up clapping wildly."
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scribicide
October 10th, 2017

"This 'Measure for Measure' is a revelation, a truly expert use of Shakespeare that allows opportunities for rethinking not only theatrical space but the play itself."
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The Wrap
October 10th, 2017

"John Collins’ Elevator Repair Service theater company has done some remarkable things with texts. But they stumble badly in their first foray into Shakespeare...Collins & Co. amp up the comedy to a manic, Marx Brothers degree — and completely obliterate any sense of the language of the play...This misfire is no measure of what this remarkable company is capable of doing."
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Village Voice
October 18th, 2017

“For all the silly, superficial things they do, every detail seems to have been carefully chosen and calculated. It’s just that what they do has so little relation to the story that I thought Shakespeare was telling us...This company uses every kind of effect - But the effects don’t harmonize with each other...These actors are quite talented...They don’t appear to the best advantage here because they are all devoted to this feckless way of taking the play off its conventional pedestal."
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Stage and Cinema
October 10th, 2017

"Elevator Repair Service imagines this so-called 'problem play' as an irreverent screwball comedy, complete with rapid-fire dialogue and exaggerated transitions...The result is a remarkable piece of theater, and the most immediate, dynamic, and modern staging of a Shakespeare play I have seen...A dramatic dance in which rhythm and timing and the interconnectedness of gestures usurp the power of the text...The production illuminates the play’s essence much more than a literal staging."
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Off Off Online
October 17th, 2017

"It tears through the niceties of Shakespeare’s plot only to screech to nearly a full stop in the scenes of highest tension, ensuring that none of the most meaningful fragments of 'needful value' passes unquestioned...The performances are entirely unpredictable from moment to moment...It is fun as hell, once one adjusts to the production’s rhythms...If this modern Shakespeare doesn’t quite coalesce, it still makes for a damn interesting bricolage."
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