The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


The Student News Site of Gannon University since 1947


CAST proves Shakespeare to be entertaining

An honest, accessible Shakespearean dialogue is what all theater lovers look for and that’s just what they got from the Cambridge American Stage Tour, also known as CAST.

This past week, Gannon University’s Schuster Theatre played host to 18 students from Cambridge, England. Those students, whether actors, designers or technical crew, certainly left an impression on the audience members who had the fortune to witness the adaptation of Shakespeare’s comedy “Measure for Measure.”

“Measure for Measure” was just what a Shakespearean play should be: an exploration of relationships and the moral character of people.  The nine actors who played multiple roles made fantastic leaps and decisions regarding the question of justifiable sin.

The eloquence with which the cast treated the dialogue was unparalleled. In a true, traditional look, the words of William Shakespeare were not made lofty and unattainable. Instead, CAST showed the words to be simple dialogue, similar to how Americans would treat Tennessee Williams.

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The direction of the play was quite intriguing. A bold, if at times questionable, casting decision left Max Upton double cast as Lord Angelo and Mistress Overdone.

Lord Angelo – a morally compromised stand-in for the missing Duke – and Mistress Overdone – the owner of a brothel and sex slave industry – were combined under the guise of the same actor.

This in and of itself left audiences with a political statement about the compromise of power and morality.

A similarly striking issue of an actor being double cast was found in the roles of Pompey and Marianna, played by Emma Powell. Pompey, a “board” and a lackey of Mistress Overdone, is continually seen to cause trouble.

Meanwhile, Marianna, the ex-fiancée of Lord Angelo, was portrayed as a victim of corruption, left husbandless and Isabella’s only hope at remaining virtuous.

Although constrained using a space the actors of CAST had never worked with, the direction of the show felt natural on Schuster’s black-box stage.

Apart from a Lady Gaga dance break, which ran the risk of falling off the multi-tiered platforms, the actors navigated their way fairly well.

Altogether, “Measure for Measure” provided an excellent opportunity to see a Shakespearean play at its finest. Apart from the superb acting, the intriguing casting decisions and the excitement of new faces, the Cambridge American Stage Tour presented Gannon with a new ideal Shakespeare as a staple of theater, not a lofty and archaic tradition.

CAST will continue to make its tour around the eastern United States until its eventual return to England. There is hope that as many college students and community members grasp the opportunity to see some of the finest Shakespeare some have ever witnessed.


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