Best Play Minneapolis 2013 - Measure for Measure by Ten Thousand Things
Bringing Shakespeare to the masses is the avowed intent of most productions of the Bard, but all too often we get a dumbed-down version that sacrifices too much in the name of clarity. Not so when Ten Thousand Things tackles Shakespeare, especially in the company's brilliant retelling of Measure for Measure. Much of the company's audience is watching live theater — let alone Shakespeare — for the first time, but there's never any confusion as to what is happening, both in the action onstage and in the minds and hearts of the characters. Director Michelle Hensley boldly cast against gender for the lead role of the Duke. It not only gave Suzanne Warmanen a chance to dig into an intriguing (and somewhat disturbing) character, but it softened the blow of the character's decision to leave the city to a fundamentalist underling and then watch from the wings for most of the play. Warmanen's performance brought out lots of shades in the character, as did the acting from the rest of the cast. The production was simple and direct but delved so deeply into the heart of the matter as to make it one of the best Shakespeare shows in recent memory.