The Merchant of Venice
A great night out provided by The Playground Theatre as an ideal for an intimate atmospheric experience of a new production of the Shakespearean classic “The Merchant of Venice”
Less is more when it comes to this minimalistic new adaption of the play retitled “A Merchant of Venice”, there is a power and poignancy in the setting, a black space accentuated by lighting alone. The audience, seated on three sides of the stage, decorated only with a bare wall of equally black latticework, is allowed to experience a rare closeness and total immersion into the play
It is up to the actors alone to conjure the imaginative world in which they play, struggling with the eternal questions of Justice and Mercy, Marriage and Money, Race and Class and the tortured nature of love.
The pared-down cast focusing on just six key characters.
Mary Carter plays with authoritySolania, a blend of multitude of supporting male role John
McAndrew is Antonio, a middle-aged wealthy nobleman, a merchant by trade, full of entitlement, melancholic, borderline depressed and hopeless in love with Bassano, who takes full advantage of the merchants’ feelings for him. Antonio agrees to guarantee a loan of 3000 ducats to Bassano, tied up to his overseas shipment, which will ultimately be lost at sea and start the tragic events to unfold.
Alexander Knox is Bassano, a handsome, irresponsible, light-hearted, slightly dim young man, who has gotten himself in debt, hoping to marry a wealthy heiress, and contracting the fatal loan to court Portia in a suitable manner, solving her riddle and winning her hand.
Alex Wilson plays a cruel and vicious Gratiano, Bassano’s vehemently anti-Semitic venomous friend, a great talker, hardly keeping himself under control.
Peter Tate’s dominates with his charismatic performance as the tragic Shylock. He is outstanding in expressing this pain talking to his phone, over his absconded daughter Jessica – never seen in the play, albeit at a distance voice stage-off, asserting the common humanity of Jew and Christian: “If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh”? The loss of his daughter makes him hardened and self-centred, and Jessica squandering her stolen wealth in Genoamakes him to rail bitterly against Christians, ultimately seeking revenge and asking for his infamous “pound of flesh”
In this small network of relationships French-born Lena Robin is a sharp and intelligent, wealthy heiress Portia, a difficult part as her maid and counterpart, Nerissa, has disappeared from the play. She is confiding her inner thoughts to the audience and flashing her I-phone showing off her many pretenders, mostly odd European characters, one of the rare comic moments in the performance. She dominates in the powerful courtroom scene as the lawyer “Balthazar,” who is Portia in disguise, pleading for Shylock to have mercy on Antonio. When Shylock insists on the original agreement of one pound of flesh, “Balthazar” orders Shylock to relinquish his entire fortune and convert to Christianism, for threatening the life of a Venetian.
The Merchant of Venice is a multi-layered play, and the debate still goes on: is it a comedy or a tragedy? The central character, the “villain” Shylock is a complex and sympathetic figure, who ends up alone and destitute, while there are joyous moments of lovers separated, in disguise and united in marriage and promise of future happiness.
But Steve Jobs would have been pleased with the mobile phone has taken centre-stage in this modern adaption of Shakespeare.
During the festive season we love to be amazed, wooed and entertained, and the world’s best destination is the heart of London:
Head to the beautifully mirrored Leicester Square Spiegeltent with its intimate 1920 settings, London West End’s most nostalgic location, where La Clique makes a triumphant return.
La Clique is a Christmas show like no other, an all-adult, all-risqué, burlesques cabaret extravaganza, which promises a night of spectacular entertainment, laughs and unmissable thrills.
You will find a breath-takingline-upof acts, which includes:
German cabaret goddess Bernie Dieter reigns supreme as Mistress of Ceremony, in her powerful dark voice blending original songs with wit and charm, creating a deliciously flirtatious rapport between artistand audience throughout the show. Her ever changing glitzy sequined outfits are inspired by Liza Minnelli, and she is accompanied by the superbly talented house band La Clique Palace Orkestra, and acclaimed saxophonist Leo P
Highlights this time round includehand balancerMirko Köckenberger, with an extraordinary quick change routine from red bell-boy to business man, whileperforming handstands and hand-balancing acts on progressively unstable suitcases.
Hugo Desmarais is spinning spectacularly from the ceiling on an aerial hoop and loop strap. The roller skating acrobats The Skating Willers take our breath away with their heart-stopping adrenaline pumped act of sheer strength and balance, the audience cringing with fear that they might spin out of control. At one point they are even using a member of the audience, whose sense of balance will probably be disturbed forever.
Burlesque performer J’aiMime is showcasing the weirdest act yet described as “balloon eats awkward blonde girl” where she is progressively swallowed up by a giant pink balloon
Craig Reid, The Incredible Hula Boy, is hilarious in his cheeky Bavarian inspired lederhosen, backed by an alpine yodelling crescendo, he dazzles with his dexterity and the sheer number of hoops he can keep in motion in one time.
And there is the inventive LJ Marles, who makes a very elegant entrance in kinky thigh-high Pretty Woman boots and black sun-dial hat, then flying up and down and around on vertical tension straps, fixed to floor and ceiling, of his very own invention, while Dieter is singing his own powerful version of the Beatles song Come Together..
The most awe-inspiring and fantastically unbelievable performance comes from Heather Holliday, vintage beauty extraordinaire, stunning with her sword-swallowing and fire-breathing, so dangerously nerve-racking that many member of the audience feeling the heat are hiding behind their hands.
This is a brilliant show providing with escapist thills and highly entertaining, a night of astonishing acts. It only plays until January 8th.