STAGE REVIEW: Measure for Measure - at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, until August 29, 2019.

SHAKESPEARE’S early 1600s offering finds itself shunted, albeit successfully, forwards to a more modern era.

It’s not that it’s eased off onto an old branch line by director Gregory Doran as it stays staunchly on the main route and leads us on from a shady Vienna of 300 years ago to the Austrian court in the late 1900s when the city is beset by lax moral conduct with the sex trade prevalent.

So how do you solve a problem like Vienna? Well, if you are the Duke you up sticks and leave your deputy to sort out the mess! Sandy Grierson’s angst Angelo is vehemently a defender of the old guard. All must be done by the book but his sentences are the severest.

He and Claire Price’s Escalus, a councillor, are perfectly paired and played as judgement is delivered. A wee spot of prejudice here as Price was a favourite playing the sidekick to that odd-ball Scottish detective in the brilliant Rebus tv series.

Sex, corruption, subterfuge are all in the merry mix - so resonant of many of todays ills within the ranks of power, that inner circle of the establishment and government and areas around. But thankfully there is a strong belief in others that what is truthful and morally right should eventually rise to the surface and win the day.

Not that it’s plain sailing and clean-up directives, along with strict laws, are necessary but not necessarily popular.

Along the route is there a subtle hint of Brexit in this part of Europe? Well not quite but there is still a bit of a mess for someone to sort out. And with the ‘absent’ duke still around - disguised as a priest - it does all eventually measure up to the inch, if not the centimetre.

Antony Byrne is the dominant figure on stage - his Duke a strikingly strong mix of emotions, authoritative but with weaknesses, and there’s great support too from the likes of James Cooney as Claudio, who is under sentence of death, and Amy Trigg as his betrothed Juliet.

Stand-out performances too from Graeme Brookes, as the over-the-top Mistress Overdone, the ‘woman’ who runs a brothel; Pompey her colourful pimp, played with great gusto and glee by David Ajao; Michael Patrick’s over-zealous police constable Elbow and the foppish Lucio, so stylishly and amusingly presented by Tom Dawze.

Shakespeare liberally sprinkles his usual comedic writing skills among the more serious subjects, to provide another memorable night of entertainment on the banks of the Avon.

It’s a compelling offering and with great drive considering the amount of spoken word.

The designs offered by Stephen Brimson Lewis, along with Simon Spencer’s dramatic lighting, more than makes up for a set that is minimal in the extreme.

Huge projected backdrops of woodland, sunny cloisters and an overwhelming central railway station provide oodles of atmosphere from threatening shadows in a prison to open, airy spaces.

This is another of the RSC’s trio of summer productions that will be transferring to London’s Barbican later in the year and along with The Taming of the Shrew and As You Like It will be warmly welcomed.