Monday, 22 September 2008

The Merchant of Venice - the press hath spake!

The Merchant of Venice (David Fielder as Shylock and Catherine Kinsella as Jessica). Image: Ian Tilton

The Merchant of Venice opened on Friday night. If this first production of the season sets the tone for Autumn Winter 2008 then I am really excited about seeing the rest. I had high hopes for the look of this show as having heard the designer, Tom Scutt, talk about it in design meets I thought it could be something really special. And it is. The metallic, largely monochromatic, design is stunning. The set looks amazing and really quite beautiful, even with the muted colour palette and a back drop reminiscent of a tired, redundant office block. A visual comment, no doubt, on the current state of what's going on in the city and on the stock market. You can see more of the set here

Set design: Tom Scutt

There are some mesmerising performances. Despite being the villain (or that's how I remember the character when I studied the text back in my college days) David Fielder (Shylock) set my bottom lip trembling in the final stages as he is well and truly broken. Portia (Emily Pithon) is also fantastic, charismatic and has beautiful comic timing. Her on stage partnership with Jenny Platt (Nerissa) works well. And despite the difficult themes and the hard edge to Merchant there are also some laughs provided mainly by Paul Simpson's Launcelot Gobbo and Dan Poyser as the Prince of Morocco. Great stuff!

Anyway, enough of what I think. Here's what the press are saying:

'Theatrical perfection' WHAT'S ON STAGE. Read the rest of the review here

'a very accessible production of this controversial play with some very strong performances' BRITISH THEATRE GUIDE. Read more here

'A terrific start to the Octagon’s new season.' THE STAGE. Read more here

'It is a triumph of Mark Babych’s directing skills to have so upturned comedy into near tragedy, and a credit to the actors that, even in its toughest moments, the play never loses its sparkle.' THE BOLTON NEWS. Read more here

'This first-rate production is a great start to the Octagon's new season and judging by the response at the end the audience agreed.'

' a relevant, thrilling, and deeply moving impression of the play it would be difficult to beat this particular Merchant.'

'a rewarding experience'
REVIEWS GATE. Read more here

'This is an excellent introduction to Shakespeare for anyone who hasn’t seen one of his plays; for those who know The Merchant well, it bears comparison with the very best of productions.' UK THEATRE NET. Read more here


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