Synopsis by Mike Cummings
Vincentio (Kenneth Colley), Duke of Vienna, is a good and kindly ruler, but his leniency has allowed vice to thrive. So he decides to leave town temporarily, putting in charge his stern chief deputy, Angelo (Tim Piggott-Smith). Immediately, Angelo condemns the young nobleman, Claudio (Christopher Strauli), to death for getting his sweetheart, Juliet (Jacqueline Pearce), pregnant. Isabella (Kate Nelligan), an aspiring nun who is Claudio's sister, is disgusted by Angelo's suggestion that she "lay down the treasures" of her body to save her brother's life. Meanwhile, the Duke returns to town in the guise of a friar to see how his domain is faring in his absence. When he spies around, he learns of Claudio's imprisonment, and he overhears the dilemma that Angelo has created for Isabella. The helpful ''friar'' then suggests to Isabella that Mariana (Jacqueline Pearce), who was once betrothed to Angelo, take her place in the darkness of Angelo's bedroom. Mariana agrees, and the scheme goes according to plan. However, Angelo reneges on his promise because he fears Claudio will seek revenge if he is released, and instead he orders Claudio's immediate execution. However, Duke Vincentio, still disguised as a friar, persuades the prison warden to spare Claudio and to trick Angelo into thinking Claudio is dead. When Duke Vincentio doffs his disguise and reappears as himself, Angelo, realizing the game is up, asks to be executed to avoid a degrading trial. But Mariana, steadfast in her love for Angelo, pleads for his life. Mercy and a happy ending triumph. Claudio returns from the dead to wed Juliet. Angelo is spared and marries Mariana. The Duke then begs the hand of Isabella. He tells her, ''Dear Isabel, I have a motion much imports your good; whereto if you'll a willing ear incline, what's mine is yours and what is yours is mine.''
assumed-identity, deception, deputy, disguise, duke, execution, nun, pregnancy