Merchant of Venice, 2014
Bell’s other 2014 production made some bold choices where some directors often equivocate and I think this is particularly necessary in a short production. The stretched out implications of ambiguous portrayals take too long for the CSF’s approximately “two hours’ traffic” of stage time.
I’m thinking of things like the opening line to which gave the clear meaning of
Antonio losing his male lover/comrade. It is good to make sense of that famous opening
hook or otherwise it is, although intriguing, jut left hanging and Shakespeare’s
opening lines are always key. It would be beyond uncharacteristic for the question
of Antonio’s sadness to be an unexplained tease. So, it needs to spring from ‘homo-
The casket scene made it clear that Portia decides, she picks her husband despite her father’s intentions. So she defies her father just like Jessica does, this production made an interesting bond betwixt those two stories and so also linked Shylock to Portia’s dead father. (That tawdry relationship of Jessica’s with Lorenzo, and reasons behind it, was well handled. I really believed in the characters.)
I normally favour Elizabethan costumes but the non-
It was good to see the Belmont atmosphere not done up as a kind of Forest of Arden "green world" escape as it clearly isn't meant to be that.
Portia’s famous speech was excellent. It was a fine idea to have her start hesitantly, grasping for a way out of the situation/something to say. Her increase in confidence and power, building to her fully realised and horribly malicious final attack on Shylock was frighteningly convincing. Charles McGuire’s Shylock was brilliant, such a strong performance, it was unbearable when he was destroyed. He did rages so well, and especially suppressed, simmering rage and worry – his shaking hand will live with me forever.
Finally, it was interesting to end with Jessica and Lorenzo on the bench, left us
a lot to ponder, wrong-
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|Merchant of Venice, 2014|