The Merchant of Venice (2007): Pascal Theatre Company, Arcola Theatre, London
PrThe Merchant of Venice (2007)
CAST INCLUDED (information from Theatre Record): Paul Herzberg (Shylock); Miranda Pleasance (Portia); Roderick Smith (Antonio); Jonathan Woolf (Bassanio).
This production ran from 14 September - 13 October 2007, according to Theatre Record.
"Julia Pascal's meditation upon The Merchant of Venice requires personal intimacy as well as the playing of public rituals, such as the climactic trial scene, but apart from Paul Herzberg's Shylock, few of the company manage such a distinction....[Pascal] has a successful record as a writer/director of using classic texts as the backbones for examinations of Jewish identity, from a harrowing Dybbuk to a reimagined Yiddish Queen Lear. Here, though, she diverges far less than usual from the core text....the perfunctory framing device that performance is a dress rehearsal by a modern-day English company taking place in the Venice ghetto in front of a single tourist, a survivor of the Warsaw ghetto who narrowly escaped the Nazi death camps. This part is not simply written for, but also uses the actual biography of, actress Ruth Posner. Posner can be magnificent; here, she has oddly little to work with. After the initial scene-setting, she merely has a few brief interventions urging Shylock's daughter Jessica not to convert to Christianity, and not a peep during the trial." ~ Ian Shuttleworth, Financial Times, 18 September 2007
"In rescuing the play from anti-Semites, Pascal is not the first director to cast Shylock as a victim of persecution in a morally bankrupt society. She goes further than most in making Shylock the victim of demented Catholics, itself as much of a religious stereotype as the bogeyman Jew of Shakespeare's Elizabethan mindset. Pascal frees one scapegoat only to snare another." ~ Lyn Gardner, The Guardian, 17 September 2007, in Theatre Record 2007, Issue 19