Gregory Doran talks about the setting of his production of Measure for Measure and a first look at Stephen Brimson Lewis' designs

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We spoke to Measure for Measure designer, Stephen Brimson Lewis about his design inspirations

"The inspiration for setting this production of Measure for Measure in early 1900s Vienna really comes from Shakespeare’s basis of the play and its original setting of Vienna.

When Greg and I spoke about this, my immediate response was Orson Welles’ film The Third Man. It’s dark, film noir, beautifully shot work and there’s something of the flavour of the play in that.

Greg and I were very keen to give a sense of the world of Vienna at the beginning, just at the build up to the First World War, which was the collapse of the monarchy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Very often in the play that set up is sort of glossed over, you immediately plunge in to all the destruction and the new regime that has come in, but we wanted to set up the world of the play with all its glamour and everything that’s connected to that part of history.

There’s a great sense of the play where one could quite easily set it in a modern-day landscape. But Greg and I both agreed that felt limiting in a way as the great contemporary landscape of Shakespeare comes from his sense of the universality. That whatever era we’re in, there’s something in our human instinct, all the complexities, strangeness and hypocrisy of what it is to be a human is in there. To set it very much now, today, as if it’s a news story would somehow seem reductive. So, we’ve just pushed it literally a hundred years earlier so that you can reflect back on Shakespeare and you can reflect forward on what you see today."

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