In Act 2, scene 1 of the play Measure for Measure the character Elbow, a representation of the "Comedic Constable" often depicted in William Shakespeare's comedies and traji-comedies, gives the director an unusual creative license in portraying this figure to give the audience a rich theatrical experience. (Evans 427) These characters are most commonly depicted as "artless, inadequate, naïve, and prosaic men who bumble through their official duties, sublimely unaware of their blunders, intent upon fulfilling their offices even when they are not really sure just what those offices are." (Evans 427) They are honest men as well, duteous, as "none of Shakespeare's comic policemen reveals any conscious neglect of duty." (Evans 430)
In one high school production of the play Measure for Measure which I saw a while ago, the character Elbow was played as sort of a village idiot, using a slack-jawed southern accent. The actor almost appeared to be attempting to portray Elbow as a drunkard as well, which I later found through research was not the stereotype that Shakespeare was trying to mock at the time. I enjoyed the comedic representation of the character, but I now think that he could have been more effectively portrayed like the character Dogberry was in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, especially the most recent performance at Loyola's McManus Theater by Uzay Tumer. This performance can rather illustrate the character more as a man self-confident in his actions and duties who is plagued with an inability to communicate to the other characters.
Elbow's speech and logic just becomes riddled with "self-contradictory malapropisms" which confuse those wish...
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... probably the main reason I have drawn out this scene into a huge collaboration of expressions. Confusion, exasperation, confidence, perplexity, happiness, frustration, and sheer amazement are all of which I wanted to capture in this brief interaction.
Bennett, Josephine Waters. Measure for Measure as Royal Entertainment. New York:
Columbia University Press, 1966: 31.
Dawson, Anthony B. "Measure for Measure, New Historicism, and Theatrical Power."
Shakespeare Quarterly, Vol. 39, No. 3., 1988: 337
Evans, Hugh C. "Comic Constables--Fictional and Historical." Shakespeare Quarterly,
Vol. 20, No. 4., 1969: 427, 430
Ross, Lawrence J. On Measure for Measure. Newark: University of Delaware Press,
Shakespeare, William. Measure for Measure. Ed. Barbara A. Mowat. Paul Werstine. New
York: Washington Square Press, 1997: 43.
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