The second subplot revolves around an unlikely suitor Bassanio (Adrian Cooke) who asks a friend Antionio (Adam Dougal) for money to finance his wooing of Portia. It’s a fine bromance: since Antonio’s capital is tied up in ships that are still out at sea, he approaches
C21 Theatre Company’s production of The Merchant of Venice transports the action to the post-depression wild living of the Roaring Twenties of post-WW1 America. The extended speechless introduction introduces the period and many of the suitably costumed characters interact in the public square. We see Antonio spit as he passes Shylock in the street.
“My mercthandice makes me nat saad”
There is a lot of comedy in the portrayal of the suitors (Mark Claney) who
The play’s pivotal moment of peril comes when Antonio’s ships don’t arrive in port and he can’t pay back Shylock. His interest free loan came with a forfeit for non-payment: one pound of flesh. It is left to a court to decide his fate.
Does good triumph over evil? The Christians (and the biased judiciary) certainly throw their weight around and gang up on “the Jew” … the former practically win the lottery, while the latter “inhumane wretch” loses everything including his wealth, his daughter and his faith (forced to convert to Christianity).
There are anachronisms aplenty including the lilt of American accents in a Venetian courtroom! Prolonged scene changes lift the production’s foot off the accelerator and slow down the pace and I fear that I’ll be humming the Maple Leaf Rag for the rest of the day.
Arthur Webb has gone a great job paring down Shakespeare’s text and directing this production. The school’s audience at today’s audience seemed to love it (and didn’t fidget) as the cast brought the characters to life. No one will be rushing to a pay day lender after the show. But they’ll be on the lookout for religious intolerance.
You can catch The Merchant of Venice in the Baby Grand (Grand Opera House) until Saturday 24th.