The Merchant of Venice (2008): Royal Shakespeare Company, The Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
PrThe Merchant of Venice (2008)
PRINCIPAL CAST: James Garnon (Antonio); Jack Laskey (Bassanio); Georgina Rich (Portia); Angus Wright (Shylock).
This production ran from 3 April - 27 September 2008.
"Reviewing a dire, gimmick-ridden production by Tim Carroll at Shakespeare's Globe a few years ago, I concluded that I felt like kicking the blighter into the Thames. Now he is making his debut in Stratford and this time I felt like kicking him into the Avon....The stage and set are painted a violent shocking pink, like a raspberry sorbet with too many E-numbers. It's naturally a modern-dress affair, with the men in suits and the women in smart frocks, but it begins and ends with tedious folk dancing of the kind that goes down well in the festive atmosphere of the Globe but is downright embarrassing in the more formal Courtyard theatre. As before, Carroll seems more interested in his own bright ideas than in the play. For some reason the Belmont scenes take place in a freezing chamber, with the casket made out of ice that shatters when Bassanio makes his correct choice. Disembodied hands appear through a chink in the set, playing eerie melodies on wine glasses that fill with blood before the trial scene....Amara Karan entirely fails to signal Jessica's divided loyalties....What a wretched start to the RSC's summer season." ~ Charles Spencer, "Something rotten from the RSC - and the gimmicks just make it worse", Daily Telegraph, 12 April 2008.
"For reasons I do not fully fathom, Portia's palace is dominated by stalactites...By stripping it of social context and denying any interpretative angle, Carroll's production is unusual, but in the end morally evasive." ~ Michael Billington, "A shallow Shylock gets lost among the stalactites", The Guardian, 11 April 2008.
"....while the production's unflinching clarity is admirable, its abstract, non-committal setting creates a problem too: it robs it of social context and makes it too antiseptic....Perhaps Carroll wanted to remove for us the comfort of being able to consign the play's unsettling plot to a specific period. But this is a play that disturbs most of all when you feel that divisions in it spring from real social roots." ~ Sarah Hemming, "The Merchant of Venice", Financial Times, 14 April 2008.
"Laura Hopkins's design contributes to the rootless, weightless mood by setting the casket scene in a fantasy cavern." ~ Rhoda Koenig, "The Merchant of Venice", Independent, 15 April 2008