There was a strangeness about this production, and it reminded me of the television programme Tales of the Unexpected. There was a conjuring Duke (Raymond Coulthard) who did slight of hand tricks, but the biggest trick of them all would be the bed trick. The Duke attempted to connect with the audience, but there was also a darkness in this production which was emphasised in the colours and mood conveyed by the set.
The production explored sex in different contexts. We saw examples of S and M, love (Claudio and Juliet), and desire.
Where this production was let down was that there was no spark or chemistry between Angelo (Jamie Beamish) and Isabella (Jodie McNee). I just couldn’t see how this tightly dressed man could be attracted to Isabella. Where Isabella should have passion in her pleading for her brother’s life there wasn’t any. However, there were some really good performances from Bruce Alexander as the Provost and Geoffrey Beevers as Escalus. Joseph Kloska was great as Pompey. His ad libbing was very appropriate and he did extremely well to involve the audience in the production. At one point he noted me and pointed out my red hair to everyone in the audience.
I felt that the production didn’t use the thrust stage as well as it could, at times it felt like it could have been in a proscenium arch theatre, as often the action felt as if it was framed.
At times the production felt a little slow, but it was enormously intriguing and that was what kept my attention.