Sean Holmes's film noir inspired production was set in post-war 1940s Vienna and featured Emma Fielding as an eloquently persuasive Isabella.

Young earnest-looking woman in headscarf and red double-breasted red coat
Emma Fielding as Isabella in Measure for Measure, 2003, Royal Shakespeare Theatre
Photo by Peter Coombs © RSC Browse and license our images


Sean Holmes updated the drama to a war-ravaged Vienna after the Second World War. As part of the rehearsal process, the company watched Carol Reed's 1949 film adaptation of Graham Greene's novel The Third Man, in which Orson Welles played shady racketeer Harry Lime.
This setting provided the perfect social context for the production, where prostitutes and black-marketeers prowled the streets, while zero tolerance of sin vied with hedonism and the abuse of power.


The Duke (Paul Higgins) handed over his authority to Angelo (Daniel Evans) at the Wien West Bahnhof, accompanied by the sound of hissing stream trains and Adrian Lee’s atmospheric music, with its echoes of Kurt Weill.


Emma Fielding was praised for conveying Isabella's resolute faith in a credible way. She provided the moral centre and “eloquently persuades us that it would be a mortal sin for a novice of Saint Clare to sacrifice her virginity” Michael Billington, Guardian, 5 May 2003. She was genuinely shocked when Angelo (Daniel Evans) propositioned her, having trusted him completely. Daniel Evans' bespectacled fusspot of an Angelo was transfixed by Isabella's virtue, which led to his downfall.


As well as playing Isabella and Angelo in Measure for Measure, Emma Fielding and Daniel Evans also played Imogen and Posthumus in Dominic Cooke's production of Cymbeline. In the following audio interview, Emma Fielding and Daniel Evans look back on their roles in the RSC’s Cymbeline and Measure for Measure during the 2003 season at Stratford-upon-Avon:

EMMA FIELDING AND DANIEL EVANS ON SHAKESPEARE (Actors and Performers, Shakespeare and Renaissance Drama, 9 September 2003, website).


Designer Anthony Lamble was reunited with director Sean Holmes, both having worked previously on the RSC's production of Massinger's The Roman Actor. Lamble's sets were "vestigial - a bare brick wall here, a few strands of barbed wire for the prison" Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph, 6 May 2003. There was no attempt to suggest Viennese decadence but rather a stark realism, complemented by Tim Mitchell's evocative lighting design which brilliantly suggested the different exterior and interior scenes. Strategically placed props included a freestanding door leading to Angelo's office and a guillotine in the prison, used for an onstage execution. The costume designs reflected the 1940s setting and, significantly, Isabella (Emma Fielding) wore secular dress rather a nun's habit, reflecting the anti-romantic approach to the play.

Set position for Measure for Measure 2003 showing prison scene with barbed-wire and brick wall
The prison: set designed by Anthony Lamble and lighting by Tim Mitchell, Measure for Measure, 2003, Royal Shakespeare Theatre
Designed by Anthony Lamble © RSC (image) Browse and license our images
Theatrical programme for Measure for Measure 2003 featruing a red background with vertical title



Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Tom Anderson - Froth

Ishia Bennison - Mistress Overdone

Toby Dantzic - Friar Peter

Esther Ruth Elliott - Francisca

Daniel Evans - Angelo

Emma Fielding - Isabella

John Lloyd Fillingham - Lucio

Christopher Harvey - Gentleman

James Hayes - Escalus

Paul Higgins - Duke Vincentio

Shereen Ibrahim - Juliet

John Lightbody - Elbow

Andrew Macbean - Varrius

Bill Nash - Barnadine

Fergus O'Donnell - Claudio

Keith Osborn - Provost

David Peart - Abhorson

Javone Prince - Gentleman

Nathan Rimell - Angelo’s Servant

Lisa Stevenson - Mariana

Simon Trinder - Pompey

Beth Vyse - Lady

Rob Wynn - Porter




Director – Sean Holmes

Designer – Anthony Lamble

Lighting Designer – Tim Mitchell

Sound Designer - Andrea J Cox

Music – Adrian Lee

Movement – Michael Ashcroft


The RSC's archive is held at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. You can visit the Library and Archives there to look at production related information, including photos, videos of shows and stage management documents:

Shakespeare Centre Library and Archive homepage

You can search the RSC catalogue here: 

RSC performance database

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