The Merchant of Venice (2006): Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh
PrThe Merchant of Venice (2006)
Cast includes: Liam Brennan (Bassanio); Jimmy Chisholm (Shylock); Neve McIntosh (Portia); Neil McKinven (Antonio). (Database information may be incomplete; cast list from Theatre Record, not programme).
This production ran from 23 September - 21 October 2006, according to Theatre Record.
"Curiously, given the uneasiness many feel about the play's anti-Semitic message (particularly the demand that Shylock renounce his religion), it was Portia's romantic rejection of the Moroccan Prince and 'all of his complexion' that drew an audible tut of disapproval from Saturday night's audience. Jimmy Chisholm is superb as Shylock, delivering every embittered line with clarity and conviction up until the defeated whisper of 'I am content'. Tipping the scales in his favour is the bullying swagger of the opposition, particularly Antonio, who exploits the money-lender's diminutive stature to look down his nose while asking for help." ~ Shona Craven, Herald, 25 September 2006, in Theatre Record 2006, Issue 19
"Meanwhile, at her country estate, Bassanio's intended bride Portia is rejecting an elegant black Moroccan suitor with a blatant prejudice that takes the breath away. In modern terms, in other words, this play is rancid with racism, anti-semitism, and the bad faith that comes with the denial of homosexuality; and productions can either try to update the play by softening the aspects we now find difficult, or leave it as it is, and let us contemplate the sheer ugliness of the attitudes Shakespeare reveals. Mark Thomson's brave if slightly inconclusive new modern-dress production at the Royal Lyceum chooses the second path; and it has to be said that it makes for an uncomfortable evening, with even the most sympathetic characters - from Neve McIntosh's lovely Portia, and Liam Brennan's wonderfully romantic Bassanio, to Mark McDonnell's rousingly rude Launcelot Gobb - displaying prejudices that constantly disrupt our identification with them, and make it less surprising that some Jewish leaders have expressed concern about this production. There are certainly times when it feels as though Thomson and his team should have gone one step further, and presented the play as a decisive critique of the arrogance and double standards of western Christian civilisation; as relevant now, in the supposed war against radical Islam, as it was in the old blood-feud with Judaism." ~ Joyce McMillan, Scotsman, 27 September 2006, in Theatre Record 2006, Issue 18