Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

A telling tale of our times

merchant cast

A day on the Rialto for the cast of The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice

The Nonentities

The Rose Theatre, Kidderminster


IT’S a rare thing in amateur theatre to clearly see the work of a director on the stage, but with The Nonentities current production of The Merchant of Venice it’s clear that director Jen Eglinton has worked hard to shape this very talented group of actors and this racially complex play into a fresh, inventive and understandable production.

The shifts in our own sensitivities and the wider political climate make the Bard’s jibes at Europeans and the stereotypical view of Jews even more uncomfortable to hear but no one holds back in giving the play the weight it was originally intended to have. 

Heading up the younger side of the cast was Andy Bingham as Bassanio who showed a maturity in his role in understanding the dilemma of his friend Antonio when accepting finances for his romantic travels. Tori Wakeman as Portia and Katy Ball as Nerissa both were clearly no strangers to Shakespeare and their delivery of their lines was clear, managing complex passages with ease. Simon Hawkins was excellent too in his energetic supporting role of Gratiano.

Joe Harper created something of a show merchant couplestealing performance as the Prince of Aragon which was a cross between Manuel from Fawtly Towers and Bruno Tonioli.

The side story of Jessica and Lorenzo was brought to life nicely by Faye Stanton and Alex Powell and together they had one of the best romantic moments when supported by some effective music and lighting ended their scene sitting in front of an active water fountain. In fact the stage was most impressive with a series of Italian arches creating an effective backdrop for all of the scenes.

Alex Powell as Lorenzo and Faye Stanton as Jessica

Colin Young played the controversial role of Shylock and although his take lacked a little passion about his persecution by the Christians he handled the role well. Bob Graham as Antonio rose to the challenge of the changing mind-set of his character, angrily despising his need of a loan from Shylock yet resolute in his possible fate. There were good supporting roles too from Pat Gale and Alex Forty.

The integration of mobile phones and mobile text technology worked well shifting some parts of the text to seem as if they had been sent via mobile phone. Likewise the transition of modern dress in the start turning to traditional costume at the ball all seemed perfectly normal as if it were just fancy dress.

Making sense of any Shakespeare play is the starting point of its success and beside the text the entire cast showed they fully understood each scene with even non-speaking performers adding greatly to the mood of the scene.

It can be imagined that as world politics continue to rightly strengthen the understanding and integration of different faiths that the Merchant of Venice might become a little too harsh for some to bear.

The same change in our social climate might also adversely affect how the play is directed either with a softening of the themes or its balance .The Nonentities production certainly suffers a little from that but none the less is a well-rounded, inventive and fluently performed production. To 28-02-15

Jeff Grant


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