In my time as a lover and student of English Literature I have sat through (and rarely enjoyed) some very imaginative attempts to bring the Bard into the 21st century. Most notably a painful Othello set in a Liverpudlian pub in the eighties with bad tracksuits and even worse Scouse accents. However, on my visit to a rehearsal of Boundless Theatre’s take on Measure For Measure the passionate director and cast made it very clear to me that such modernising appellations are not necessary for this problem play.
Director Matt Bulmer has set Measure for Measure in a nameless, timeless city of vice with no period costumes, claiming that the story itself is fully able to connect to the modern audience. The juicy and timeless themes of vice, corruption, bawdiness and greed are a great source of entertainment in this play but Bulmer argues that it deals with many situations which affect today’s young people especially. He claims that the play handles such issues as the freedom of youth, the need for authority, untrustworthy leadership, and boys chasing girls. What impressed upon me the most was the fact that today’s political and social problems are only ever hinted at, never preaching or taking primary position over the twisting plot or the actors’ performances.
Today’s political and social problems are only ever hinted at, never preaching or taking primary position.
Speaking to the incredibly enthusiastic cast members (ranging between 18 and 27), I saw each had their own ideas of what makes the play so relatable and entertaining to a young modern audience. They praised Bulmer for being so creative and flexible in moulding the show to pick out the parts of the script which were most relevant for them – making this a production created by young people for young people.
Boundless Theatre have created this production on a shoestring budget and with very little time to rehearse. In fact, they will not be able to rehearse in the theatre until the day of the first performance. But watching a run of the second act in a standard seminar room I was blown away by the intense, absorbing but also funny performances from all the cast members, showing what great young acting talent there is. As director Bulmer says, Boundless are trying to gain more interest and funding for youth theatre and if opening night is half as good as that rehearsal was, I am certain they will attract all the right attention. So please, come along and support this great company but more than anything come and enjoy yourself because it is set to be a great performance.
If you buy 9 tickets the tenth is free and if you sign up for free for the Nuffield’s free 15-2-25 scheme then tickets are £5 on Friday night and £7 on Saturday – another reason to come to what looks to be an excellent evening of theatre.