Gray Matters

GLTF stages Shakespeare's most famous problem play.

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Shakespeare’s political thriller Measure for Measure dwells in the dangerous space between tragedy and comedy. That murky gray area is precisely what drew Risa Brainin to the project. “It’s a play about the complexities of leadership -- how not everything is black and white,” says Brainin, who directs the Great Lakes Theater Festival production opening at Playhouse Square tonight. “This is definitely worth thinking about as we approach another election year.”

Brainin refigures the Bard’s 17th-century tale -- about a duke who leaves his government in the hands of a near-dictator -- for modern times. While actors still speak like it’s 1604, they do so on cell phones as they stroll urban streets -- which look a little bit like Cleveland’s. “The city is worn and used, but can still look beautiful -- depending on the eye of the beholder,” says Brainin. Measure for Measure stands as one of Shakespeare’s most hotly contested works. Audiences never know whether to laugh or gasp. The ending is kinda vague. And the characters aren’t very likable. The new leader even puts people to death for having sex. Plus, there’s a nun at the center of it all who may or may not give up her vows to hook up with the duke. “It’s an interesting ride,” says Brainin.
Wednesdays-Fridays, 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 1:30 & 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: Oct. 5. Continues through Oct. 19, 2007

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