"The ‘analogous re-imagination’ of many characters as female in the play was particularly striking"Tian Chan

A Shakespeare play is the last place I would have expected to find Tinder. It's appearance in the ADC Main Show, The Merchant of Venice, was certainly a surprise. Far from its regular use as a stop gap between lectures, O’Gorman appropriated the popular dating app to put a modern twist on a classical scene, reflecting the theme of modernity throughout. The later Nintendo motif – part of a gameshow-style set-up – re-appropriated the Elizabethan play's sense of old age fantasy, hurling us into the modern age; though I may suggest it could do with a slight nudge further into the future.

“Shakespeare messed with in just the right amount”

Placed against the familiar backdrop of Venice, expertly designed by Lydia Clark, the play pushed the boundaries of time whilst allowing its audience to indulge in the familiar location. It was Shakespeare messed with in just the right amount.

Indeed, the staging was by far the most impressive component of the production. The trial scene in particular, was strikingly envisaged to reflect to the strict hierarchical structures and underlying anti-Semitism addressed in the play, placing Shylock begging on the ground beneath her social superiors. From the oppressive waters, however, Megan Gilbert powerfully emerges, re-creating the role of Shylock with a flavour of maternal instinct whilst pushing the depth and anguish of her role to the heights of the structures on which her oppressors stand.

The outrage of the cohesive cast against Shylock is adeptly lulled by the dignified Duke (Malcolm Ebose), whilst Henry Eaton-Mercer holds his own in heavily populated scenes as Antonio, evoking all the gravitas of a classical Shakespearian actor and maintaining a constant presence despite the limited scope of his role.

Tian Chan

The ‘analogous re-imagination’ of many characters as female in the play was particularly striking, creating new dynamics which allow the audience could empathise with the pre-existing female relationships. Laura Pujos appeared more as the wily and empowered woman than as a prize to be bought in the role of Portia, whilst Alice Jay captured the audience in her enigmatic role as Nerissa, adding a note of levity to the heavy themes of the play, in her girlish playfulness.

“An entertaining and thought-provoking play”

The production was complimented by music which reflected the on stage performances. Towards the end this particularly conveyed the emotive break down of the relationship between Shylock and her daughter and the religion which bound them. The motif of water, was most prominent here and made all the more symbolic by its constant re-appearance throughout the play.

It must be noted that this is not the first Shakespearean play that will undergo a modern rebranding this term, but I have no doubt that O’Gorman’s direction will stand out. In a slot where some of the subtleties of Shakespeare could be lost, I would thoroughly recommend this as both an entertaining and thought-provoking play

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