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Thomas Tyrrell review of The Merchant of Venice in Cardiff

July 4, 2018

Merchant-image

Review from Thomas Tyrrell that first appeared in Wales Arts Review:

Everyman | Cardiff Open-Air Theatre Festival, 2018

The plots of many of Shakespeare’s comedies work better if you assume the characters are drunk most of the time. Joss Whedon’s film of Much Ado About Nothing (2013) did this well, setting the play at a boozy Californian house party, but Everyman Theatre’s The Merchant of Venice takes it to the next level, taking the play to the high-octane, high finance, high-as-a-kite world of the 80s, where women with big hair and men with ludicrous lapels snort cocaine and gulp down Quaaludes in vast quantities. Think Wolf of Wall Street does Shakespeare, and you won’t be far off.

The sets, like the decade, are not exactly subtle. On one side of the stage, Portia’s Palazzo, the Belmont, is rendered as a gloriously tacky cocktail bar. On the other, a wall-sized image of argosies and galleons sailing between corporate megaliths reinforces the melding of two great ages of trade and finance. Badly-placed microphones mean that every squeak of the actor’s shoes is sometimes wincingly amplified, but the sight of the full moon rising behind the treetop backdrop of the outdoor theatre didn’t fail to cast a little magic over the scene.

Read the rest of the review.

 

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