The Merchant of Venice | Illyria Theatre | Review

The Merchant of Venice
The Hawth Amphitheatre
19th August 2018

The Merchant of Venice | Review


This small production of the Merchant of Venice performed by the Illyria Theatre Company proved to be charming, entertaining and funny. It was performed in the small amphitheatre at the back of the Hawth in a glade in the woods, which added a lovely dimension to the play, helped by the fact that it didn’t rain that night!

The cast were each playing 2 or 3 different characters throughout the performance, which was very impressive considering the amount of lines most characters have in a Shakespeare play, coupled with some very quick costume changes.

This story involves Bassanio, who wishes to woo Portia, a wealthy heiress. He is desperate for a loan so that he can raise the adequate funds to appear a worthy suitor. Antonio says he’ll be the loan’s guarantor and Bassanio gets the money from Shylock the Jew. If Bassanio fails to repay the loan, it is agreed that Shylock (who thinks Antonio despises him as a Jew) will take a pound of Antonio’s flesh.

Bassanio succeeds in winning the hand of Portia but Shylock won’t take the repayment and demands his pound of flesh from Antonio. His plan is scuppered when his contract reveals he can only have the flesh without spilling any blood and he is ordered to hand over all he owns and convert to Christianity.

It is a tale of anti-semitism, revenge, love and money but does have some genuinely comedic moments, which are executed well by Illyria, especially the many appearances of a shuffling manservant who appears with 3 caskets on a table that Bassanio has to choose from in order to woo Portia.

A very enjoyable and enchanting performance by a strong and talented cast.

Reviewer: Lisa Felton

Touring venues across the UK during August and September.