Monday, April 27, 2015


Shakespeare's Globe

A colourful picture of Cinquecento Venice by the Thames: a lively carnival with drums and masks, torches and vendible maids, squibs and a Masque of Cupid, pimping and anti-semitic violence.
Curtain-raiser to a fine production from Jonathan Munby, with the stories clearly told, the audience involved. Beautifully designed too [though it remains my view that this stage needs no set] by Mike Britton, with a bronze gauze curtain to suggest Belmont, and sumptuous frocks all round.
The performances are neatly tailored to the space, too. Daniel Lapaine's lovesick Bassanio, Dominic Mafham's grizzled, strong Antonio, feisty charm from Rachel Pickup and Dorothea Myer-Bennett as Portia and her maid, the lawyer's clerk. The first suitor, Morocco, is given great presence by Scott Karim, got up to look like the ambassador to the Virgin Queen. Naturally, the comedy is very much to the fore, with an amusing Aragon from Christopher Logan and a great turn from Stefan Adegbola as Launcelot Gobbo, actually making his quandary funny, with the help of two groundlings as Devil and Conscience. Old Gobbo, though, presumably beyond rescue, remains excised.
But there's a deep, thoughtful, careful Shylock from Jonathan Pryce, in his first Globe role; despite his meticulous business with scales, weight and knife, he elicits the sympathy of the crowd, so that the legal quibble seems a little harsh, and Gratiano's taunting petty and base. His excellent Jessica is his own daughter, Phoebe Pryce.
At the end, in contrast to the riotous opening, and instead of the traditional jig, Jessica's Jewish lament, and a solemn procession for Shylock's painful Christian Credo.

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