British Black and Asian Shakespeare Performance Database
The Merchant of Venice (1992): Library Theatre, Manchester
PrThe Merchant of Venice (1992)
PRINCIPAL CAST: David Kelsey (Antonio); Kate Paul (Portia); Peter Whitman (Shylock); Chris Wright (Bassanio).
This production ran from 30 October - 21 November 1992.
"Director Chris Honer doesn't duck or weave around the ugly racist attitudes displayed in Shakespeare's play but tackles them head on. He's set this Merchant in a twenties Venice, where the smug complacency of the ruling elite of wheeler-dealing businessmen is as evident as their moral bankruptcy. This is as modern as you can make it, without crunching against the text and losing its relevance to present-day efforts to maintain the credibility of a basically corrupt financial system. The Duke's discomfiture at having to hurt a member of his club to maintain Venice's international trading position has a very contemporary ring. Michael Taylor's design sets Venetian cafe society and Portia's stately home against a crumbling Tintoretto-style fresco as a wry allusion to the play's Renaissance origins - the money men's claim that their word is as good as their bond goes back, you feel, long before FIMBRA." ~ Robin Thornber, The Guardian, 6 November 1992
"Chris Honer's steady production places The Merchant in 1920s Venice, according to Michael Taylor's deft design, connecting with market speculation and cultural attitudes then current. Anti-semitism excepted, perhaps 1990s Milan would have suited better, particularly since the ratio of public to private debt in Italy and England are inversely proportional....But the production style misses the mark by going for the lira....The flash double-breasted suits, panama hats and ticker tape tend to distract from the action; while the Belmont scenes, all flapper-dresses and gramophones, feel semi-detached. After all, this is a play about anti-semitism." ~ Andrew St George, "Merchant updated, Seagull transported", Financial Times, 7 November 1992
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