First recorded performance is at Whitehall Palace on 26th December 1604. It may have been written while London’s theatres were closed due to plague, between May 1603 and April 1604.
First appears in the First Folio. It was probably typeset from a reliable manuscript, prepared by Ralph Crane (a professional scribe employed by the King’s Men), who copied it from Shakespeare’s manuscripts or an earlier copy.
‘Haste still pays haste, and leisure answers leisure,
Like doth quit like, and Measure still for Measure.’
Measure for Measure, V i
Brief synopsis of the play
Duke Vincentio departs Vienna suddenly, handing power to his puritanical deputy Angelo, who begins a zealous campaign against lechery and sexual licence. Claudio, who has made his lover Juliet pregnant before marriage, is condemned to death. When his sister Isabella pleads for mercy, Angelo demands she sleep with him to secure her brother’s life. A problem play that weighs up sexual politics, virtue, injustice and hypocrisy.