Friday, August 21, 2015

'The Merchant of Venice' by WIlliam Shakespeare

21 August 2015

On Saturday we were at the Errol Flynn Filmhouse in Northampton to see a repeat screening of the recent live broadcast of Polly Findlay's RSC production of 'The Merchant of Venice' from the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. Set against a giant brass mirrored wall and floor, designed by Johannes Schutz, this sober production of a difficult play brought the acting to the fore. With a minimal set and restrained stagecraft our focus was solely on the actors – who were visible from multiple angles in the reflections from the mirrored surfaces. Patsy Ferran was fascinating as Portia – impatient, twitchy, amused, intrigued and determined – her mood switching on a sixpence. Her facial expressions appeared to reveal the workings of Portia's brain and the audience was completely on her side. The Israeli/Palestinian actor Makram J Khoury made Shylock both sympathetic and cruel – a very different performance from the usual RSC company of actors which really emphasised Shylock as the outsider. 'The Merchant of Venice' is a dark play but this production was thoughtful and clear, with some impressive acting.

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