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Measure for Measure

Plot Summary

The Duke of Vienna decides to leave the city for a while, appointing his deputy, Angelo, to govern in his absence. Angelo resolves to revive vigorous laws against sexual licence, which have fallen into disuse. Under these laws a young gentleman, Claudio, is sentenced to death for having made his fianceŽe Juliet pregnant before their wedding ceremony. Claudio's sister Isabella, a novice nun, is persuaded by his friend Lucio to plead with Angelo for her brother's life. Angelo promises to free Claudio if Isabella will sleep with him. She refuses and tells her brother that she must keep her honour and he, therefore, must die. The duke has stayed in Vienna disguised as a friar observing the new regime and he now persuades Isabella to pretend to accede to Angelo's demands. Her place in Angelo's bed is secretly taken by Mariana, Angelo's former fianceŽe whom he deserted. After the event, Angelo betrays Isabella by trying to carry out Claudio's execution but his plans are foiled by the duke's intervention.


RSC Staging History 1960-2007

1962 RST: John Blatchley

John Bury (design); John Bury (lighting)

Tom Fleming (Vincentio), Judi Dench (Isabella), Marius Goring (Angelo), Ian Richardson (Lucio), Clive Swift (Pompey), Edmond Bennett (Elbow), Ian Holm (Claudio), Yvonne Bonnamy (Mariana), Patricia Brake (Juliet), Paul Hardwick (Provost), Clifford Rose (Froth), Peter Jeffrey (Escalus), Tony Church (Barnadine)

1970 RST: John Barton

Timothy O'Brien (design); John Bradley (lighting)

Sebastian Shaw (Vincentio), Estelle Kohler (Isabella), Ian Richardson (Angelo), Terrence Hardiman (Lucio), John Kane (Pompey), Trader Faulkner (Elbow), Ben Kingsley (Claudio), Sara Kestelman (Mariana), Mary Rutherford (Juliet), William Russell (Provost), Peter Egan (Froth), Patrick Barr (Escalus), David Waller (Barnadine)

1974 RST: Keith Hack

Maria Bjornson (design); John Bradley (lighting); Stephen Oliver (music)

Barrie Ingham (Vincentio), Francesca Annis (Isabella), Michael Pennington (Angelo), Barry Stanton (Lucio), James Booth (Pompey), Ian McDiarmid (Elbow), Malcolm Tierney (Claudio), Gay Hamilton (Mariana), Debbie Bowen (Juliet), Jeffery Kissoon (Provost), David Waller (Escalus)

1978 RST/1979 Aldwych: Barry Kyle

Christopher Morley (design); Brian Harris (lighting); James Walker (music)

Michael Pennington (Vincentio), Paola Dionisotti/Sinéad Cusack (Isabella), Jonathan Pryce/David Suchet (Angelo), John Nettles (Lucio), Richard Griffiths (Pompey), Geoffrey Freshwater (Elbow), Allan Hendrick (Claudio), Marjorie Bland/Natasha Parry (Mariana), Sheridan Fitzgerald (Juliet), Darlene Johnson (Mistress Overdone), Donald Douglas (Provost), Ian Reddington (Froth), Raymond Westwell (Escalus), Conrad Asquith (Barnadine), Diana Berriman (Francisca), Dennis Edwards (Abhorson), Juliet Stevenson (Whore), Ruby Wax (Whore)

1983 RST/1984 Barbican: Adrian Noble

Bob Crowley (design); Robert Bryan (lighting); Ilona Sekacz (music)

Daniel Massey (Vincentio), Juliet Stevenson (Isabella), David Schofield (Angelo), Richard O'Callaghan (Lucio), Anthony O'Donnell (Pompey), Trevor Peacock (Elbow), John Nolan (Claudio), Emma Watson (Mariana), Sarah Berger/Tilda Swinton (Juliet), Peggy Mount (Mistress Overdone), Oliver Ford Davies (Provost), Raymond Platt (Froth), Joseph O'Conor (Escalus), Stanley Dawson (Varrius), Campbell Morrison (Barnadine), Caroline Harris (Francisca), Griffith Jones (Abhorson), David Killick (A Justice)

1987 RST/1988 Barbican: Nicholas Hytner

Mark Thompson (design); Mark Henderson (lighting); Jeremy Sams (music)

Roger Allam (Vincentio), Josette Simon (Isabella), Sean Baker (Angelo), Alex Jennings (Lucio), Phil Daniels (Pompey), George Raistrick (Elbow), Hakeem Kae-Kazim (Claudio), Janet Amsbury (Mariana), Kate Littlewood (Juliet), Linda Spurrier (Mistress Overdone), David Howey (Provost), David Pullan (Froth), Mark Dignam (Escalus), Gordon Case (Barnadine), Jane Whittenshaw (Francisca), Derek Hutchinson (Abhorson)

1991 TOP/1991 Small-scale Tour/1992 Young Vic: Trevor Nunn

Maria Bjornson (sets), Sue Willmington (costumes); Chris Parry (lighting)

Philip Madoc (Vincentio), Claire Skinner (Isabella), David Haig (Angelo), Roger Hyams (Lucio), Peter-Hugo Daly (Pompey), Desmond McNamara (Elbow), Jason Durr (Claudio), Kelly Hunter/Teresa Banham (Mariana), Teresa Banham (Juliet), Judith Bruce (Mistress Overdone), Sidney Livingstone (Provost), Jonathan Glynn (Froth), Allan Mitchell (Escalus), Julian Forsyth (Barnadine), Sarah Flind (Francisca)

1994 RST/1995 Barbican: Steven Pimlott

Ashley Martin-Davis (design); Brian Harris (lighting); Jason Carr (music)

Michael Feast (Vincentio), Stella Gonet (Isabella), Alex Jennings (Angelo), Barry Lynch (Lucio), Derek Griffiths/Clive Rowe (Pompey), Bille Brown/Simon Dormandy (Elbow), Toby Stephens (Claudio), Tanya Moodie (Mariana), Caroline Blakiston (Mistress Overdone), David Killick (Provost), Alfred Burke (Escalus), Liam O'Callaghan (Barnadine), Griffith Jones (Abhorson)

1998 RST/1999 Barbican: Michael Boyd

Tom Piper (design); Heather Carson (lighting); John Woolf (music)

Robert Glenister (Vincentio), Clare Holman (Isabella), Stephen Boxer (Angelo), Adrian Schiller (Lucio), Jimmy Chisholm (Pompey), John Dougall (Elbow), Stephen Kennedy (Claudio), Cathryn Bradshaw (Mariana), Penny Layden (Juliet), Carol MacReady (Mistress Overdone), Lalor Roddy (Provost), James Tucker (Froth), Gavin Muir (Escalus), Sandy Macnab (Varrius), Steve Swinscoe (Barnadine), Tina Gambe (Francisca), Aislinn Mangan (First Whore)

2003 RST: Sean Holmes

Anthony Lamble (design); Tim Mitchell (lighting); Adrian Lee (music)

Paul Higgins (Vincentio), Emma Fielding (Isabella), Daniel Evans (Angelo), John Lloyd Fillingham (Lucio), Simon Trinder (Pompey), John Lightbody (Elbow), Fergus O'Donnell (Claudio), Lisa Stevenson (Mariana), Shereen Ibrahim (Juliet), Ishia Bennison (Mistress Overdone), Keith Osborn (Provost), Tom Anderson (Froth), James Hayes (Escalus), Bill Nash (Barnadine), Esther Ruth Elliot (Francisca)

For a gallery of over 100 production images from a selection of these productions (and some older ones in the pre-RSC Shakespeare Memorial Theatre), together with sample costumes, pages from promptbooks and other visual materials, go to

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