THE 21st CENTURY MERCHANT OF VENICE
adapted by Carol Allen from the play by William Shakespeare.
The Drayton Arms Theatre 153 Old Brompton Road SW5 0LJ To 14 June 2014.
8pm Mat Sat 3pm.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.
TICKETS: 0207 835 2301.
Review: William Russell 10 June.
Greed, revenge and stilettos make their point.
Twice within a week a woman has been given a leading male role in a Shakespeare play. It is a bit like the No 11 bus. Wait ages for one and two come along at the same time. Last week Queen Lear, now Ms Shylock in Carol Allen’s interesting modern dress version of the play.
The vengeful Jew has been turned into Sara Shylock, a high-flying City financier, all killer-heels and ice-cold of heart. The change works well, partly due to a fine performance from Claire Garrigan, but Ms Allen’s other big idea, changing Antonio and the other Venetians, into Moslems is less successful, although Portia is an exception.
Komal Amin makes a fetching Portia, intent on getting the right suitor to open the right casket, and in the court scene as a Daniel come to judgement she is transformed into a Shami Chakrabarti lookalike to brilliant effect.
The play, however, remains a problem. It is impossible to see Shylock today as a villain seeking inhumane redress, but rather as the victim of a ghastly collection of fortune-hunting Venetian capitalists, and also betrayed by an ungrateful daughter who decamps to her boyfriend with as much loot as she can collect.
Charlie Frost makes the fortune-hunting bisexual Bassanio as nice a guy as it is possible to do, and Ellis McFarland is a gloriously thuggish Gratiano. But Ms Allen should have had a word with her set designer. The cast spend far too much time shifting around some screens and rostra to absolutely no effect other than to waste time.
Antonio: Fahed Salman.
Duke of Morocco: Obi Oblora.
Duke of Venice: Rohan MacCullum.
Bassanio: Charlie Frost.
Gratiano: Ellis McFarland.
Lorenzo: Richard Armah.
Portia: Komal Amin.
Nerissa: Anna Ray.
Sara Shylock: Claire Garrigan.
Jessica: Sofia Stephanou.
Prince of Arragon: Adam Tolfrey.
Director: Carol Allen.
Designer/Costume: Marcio Andrey Santarosa.