British Black and Asian Shakespeare Performance Database
The Merchant of Venice (1989): The Peter Hall Company, Phoenix Theatre, London
PrThe Merchant of Venice (1989)
PRINCIPAL CAST: Dustin Hoffman (Shylock); Geraldine James (Portia); Leigh Lawson (Antonio); Nathaniel Parker (Bassanio).
The first performance of this production took place on 1 June 1989. The production also played New York, but without Jeffery Kissoon and a few other cast members.
"Where Bill Alexander's recent RSC production brought to mind images of South Africa in its stress on the way racial oppression breeds violent revenge, Hall's production locates the play firmly in a Renaissance world. Chris Dyer's pillared set evokes a quinquecento Italy, the Christians are seen as mildly unpleasant rather than downright barbarous, and as much stress is placed on Belmont as on Venice. Indeed the most radical feature of this production is that it makes Portia rather than Shylock the centre of the play." ~ Michael Billington, "Merchant of irony", The Guardian, 2 June 1989
"As Portia, Geraldine James radiates intelligence and strength of character, and does her best to gloss over the racial distaste which informs her dealings with the Prince of Morocco, who is given a performance of superb flamboyance by Jeffery Kissoon." ~ Charles Osborne, "Discreet charm of Hoffman's Shylock", Daily Telegraph, 3 June 1989
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