Merchant of Venice: Mini Review

Hello People,
How are you? I’m fine, I just can’t believe there are only five weekends to Christmas (FIVE weekends I tell you, FIVE!). I’m like a big kid on Christmas morning, I can’t wait to get the tree up and start Crimbo shopping. I’ll dedicate a whole standalone post to Christmas and I’m just doing the write-up for my first official book signing, so keep your eyes peeled. I know how pushed for time you all are, so in the spirit of blogging and keeping bite-size nuggets of content for your delectation, I’ll be keeping these posts punchy and neat, which you can read whilst sipping your espresso. Here is the first of many, I do hope you enjoy and would love to hear from you in the comment section of this post…

IMG_0919I was lucky enough to get myself to the Ashrow Theatre’s latest production of The Merchant of Venice. Now, I adore Shakespeare. I wrote my dissertation on him and one of the key plays I studied, was The Merchant of Venice. I know the play inside out so I’m always interested in people’s interpretation of one of my favourite plays of all time.

IMG_0849This play has it all – drama, comedy, horror, romance – a real mix of some of my favourite genres. The production kicked off with Antonio wandering from the back of the stalls, meandering his way through the crowd and onto the stage to deliver a thought-provoking monologue. I loved this little interaction with the audience; it gave the play an added depth and really made you feel more than just a voyeur.

IMG_0909To those of you not in the know, the play centres around the eponymous Merchant of Venice Antonio, who is forced to repay a pound of flesh when his cargo fails to come in. Shylock is the stubborn villainous creature hell-bent on revenge, whilst sub-plots provided by Bassanio, Portia and Jessica keep the story flowing nicely along.

You get sucked into each scene, that you forget you’re in a teeny tiny seat in one of the oldest theatres in Derby. I loved this production. The dynamic duo of Guy Evans and Rowan Scarborough (director and assistant director/producer respectively) is fantastically potent. The actors could only excel under Guy’s astute leadership and awesome eye for detail. The costumes were contemporary and eye-catching, and the accomplished staff made watching the play a real pleasure.

IMG_1314The standout performance for me, was Julia Damassa’s turn as Portia. She was positively sublime. Julia has that rare stage presence – when she walks into a scene, she owns it. I look forward to seeing more of her and the cast in the Ashrow Theatre’s productions.

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