Measure for Measure has a small cast but it deals with big themes. The play includes some of Shakespeare’s most powerful lines about the terror of death, and few of his plays are more cynical about the business of love. As it probes political corruption and sexual deviance, the play asks angry, insistent questions. Yet the play offers few answers. Some find this troubling and consequently, in modern times, the play has been burdened with the wholly unattractive and inappropriate label ‘problem play’. Hamlet is clearly a tragedy, there is no question that As You Like It is a comedy, but poor, ugly Measure for Measure is treated with puzzlement. There is no such genre as a ‘problem play’. It is we who have the problem.
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