×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Measure for Pleasure

In "Measure for Pleasure," saucy scribe David Grimm has penned an extremely stylish sex farce that's just the thing to get us through the dark days of Lent. Clever show sends up both Puritan morality and libertine licentiousness to make its timeless romantic pitch for guilt-free sex in all its permutations.

With:
Sir Peter Lustforth - Wayne Knight Captain Dick - Dashwood Saxon Palmer Molly Tawdry - Euan Morton Lady Vanity Lustforth - Suzanne Bertish Dame Stickle - Susan Blommaert Hermione Goode- Emily Swallow Footmen - Frederick Hamilton,Ryan Tresser

In “Measure for Pleasure,” saucy scribe David Grimm (“Kit Marlowe”) has penned an extremely stylish (and exuberantly filthy) sex farce that’s just the thing to get us through the dark days of Lent. Set in Restoration England and adhering more or less faithfully to period theatrical conventions, clever show sends up both Puritan morality and libertine licentiousness to make its timeless romantic pitch for guilt-free sex in all its permutations. Although the orientation of the comedy is decidedly gay, its cheery message (“Go be happy”) embraces horny folks of all ages and sexual persuasions. This is an orgy to which all are graciously invited.

Any complaint about the show’s knee-buckling length should take into account the daunting logistics of the plot, which owes as much to Oscar Wilde as it does to Wycherley or Congreve. While jam-packed with duels, deceits, disguises and other tomfoolery, the structure supporting all these hijinks is a solid piece of engineering, and Peter DuBois has directed all of its nonsensical business with extraordinary panache.

At the centerpiece of this complicated romance is Molly Tawdry (Euan Morton), a fetching transvestite prostitute who breaks the heart of Will Blunt (Michael Stuhlbarg), the valet who adores her, by falling madly in love with Captain Dick Dashwood (Saxon Palmer), a handsome womanizer who is angling to outwit the puritanical Dame Stickle (Susan Blommaert) and seduce her charge, the virginal Hermione Goode (Emily Swallow), before she is despoiled by that licentious aristocrat Sir Peter Lustforth (Wayne Knight), whose designs on the girl are constantly being thwarted by his sexually demanding wife, Lady Vanity Lustforth (Suzanne Bertish), who also happens to be hooker-turned-maid Molly Tawdry’s mistress. Phew!

But even as he sets the stage for a lighthearted sex farce, Grimm turns the theatrical form over his knee by replacing all the conventional literary euphemisms with sexually explicit dialogue and downright raunchy dramatic action. Instead of showing her affection for Will Blunt by, say, darning his socks, Molly gets down on her knees and gives him a blowjob. And rather than hint suggestively at what they’d like to do on a boys’ night out, Sir Peter and Captain Dick simply strap on gigantic gold-plated penises and head for the whorehouse.

The language alone is enough to melt the plaster off the gigantic friezes (the creations of Alexander Dodge) depicting hilariously outre sexual positions that decorate the vestibule of the orgy pit.

That all these outrageous antics raise laughter rather than horrified shock has something to do with the comic integrity of the acting, which is classy in the extreme. Stuhlbarg and Swallow carry it off with Shakespearean earnestness. Morton draws on the winsome ways of a Dickensian heroine. Bertish applies the wit of Moliere. And at the helm, director DuBois takes care that no one stoops to vulgarity.

But on a more intrinsic level, the sexual explicitness holds up because it is actually faithful to the spirit of the Restoration period, which, frankly, was even more licentious than our own. In his slyly witty way, Grimm has done nothing more outrageous than adding a few modern reference points.

Measure for Pleasure

Public Theater; 271 seats; $50 top

Production: A Public Theater presentation of a play in two acts written by David Grimm. Directed by Peter DuBois. Will Blunt Michael Stuhlbar.

Creative: Sets, Alexander Dodge; costumes; Anita Yavich; lighting, Christopher Akerlind; sound, Walter Trarbach, Tony Smolenski IV; original music, Peter Golub; style consultant, B.H. Barry; production stage manager, Jane Pole. Opened March 8, 2006; reviewed March 7. Running time: 2 HOURS, 30 MIN.

Cast: Sir Peter Lustforth - Wayne Knight Captain Dick - Dashwood Saxon Palmer Molly Tawdry - Euan Morton Lady Vanity Lustforth - Suzanne Bertish Dame Stickle - Susan Blommaert Hermione Goode- Emily Swallow Footmen - Frederick Hamilton,Ryan Tresser

More Legit

  • Hugh Jackman'To Kill a Mockingbird' Broadway

    'To Kill a Mockingbird's' Starry Opening: Oprah, Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and More

    The Shubert Theatre in New York City last was filled on Thursday night with Oscar winners, media titans, and, of course, Broadway legends who came out for the opening of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The starry guest list included Oprah Winfrey, Barry Diller, “Les Misérables” co-stars Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Gayle King, [...]

  • Pat Gelbart Obit Dead

    Actress Pat Gelbart, Wife of 'MASH' Creator, Dies at 94

    Pat Gelbart, widow of late “MASH” creator Larry Gelbart, died surrounded by family at her home in Westwood, Calif. on Dec. 11. She was 94. Gelbart was born in Minneapolis, Minn. in 1928 as Marriam Patricia Murphy. When she met her husband, Gelbart was an actress, known for the 1947 musical “Good News,” in which [...]

  • To Kill a Mockingbird review

    Broadway Review: 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

    Against all odds, writer Aaron Sorkin and director Bartlett Sher have succeeded in crafting a stage-worthy adaptation of Harper Lee’s classic American novel “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The ever-likable Daniels, whose casting was genius, gives a strong and searching performance as Atticus Finch, the small-town Southern lawyer who epitomizes the ideal human qualities of goodness, [...]

  • Isabelle HuppertIsabelle Huppert Life Achievement Award,

    Isabelle Huppert, Chris Noth to Appear on Stage in 'The Mother'

    Isabelle Huppert will appear opposite Chris Noth in the Atlantic Theater Company’s production of “The Mother.” It marks the U.S. premiere of the show. “The Mother” was written by French playwright Florian Zeller and translated by Christopher Hampton. Huppert, an icon of European film, was Oscar-nominated for “Elle” and appears in the upcoming Focus Features [...]

  • Could Anyone Follow ‘Springsteen on Broadway’?

    Could Anyone Follow 'Springsteen on Broadway'? Here Are Five Things They'd Need (Guest Column)

    After 235-odd shows, with grosses in excess of $100 million, a Special Tony Award and a hotly anticipated Netflix special debuting Sunday, “Springsteen on Broadway” is an unprecedented Broadway blockbuster. As with any success in entertainment, the rush to replicate The Boss’ one-man show reportedly is under way, with a consortium led by Live Nation, CAA [...]

  • Clueless review

    Off Broadway Review: 'Clueless' the Musical

    How does a musical stage adaptation of Amy Heckerling’s 1995 film comedy of oblivious privileged teens, “Clueless,” play in the era of female empowerment and millennial engagement? True, the principal skills of lead teen Cher Horowitz are the superficial ones of mall shopping and makeovers. But her sweet spirit and independence, plus some added P.C. relevance, [...]

  • Ley Line Unveils Brian Wilson Documentary,

    Ley Line Unveils Brian Wilson Documentary, 'Hugo Cabret' Musical

    Producers Tim Headington and Theresa Steele Page have unveiled Ley Line Entertainment with a Brian Wilson documentary and a “Hugo Cabret” musical in the works. Ley Line said it’s a content development, production, and financing company with projects spanning film, television, stage, and music. Headington financed and produced “The Young Victoria,” “Argo,” “Hugo,” and “World [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content