The Merchant of Venice (review)

The Merchant of Venice (review)
The Merchant of Venice (review)
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THE PLAY: Even though there are 3 sets of romantic interests in this Shakespearean classic, the most noteworthy aspect of this play revolves around the Jewish money lender Shylock and his demand for a “pound of flesh.”


THE PRODUCTION: The pivotal character of Shylock is played by Matthew Radford Davies, who’s the master of every moment he’s on stage. While all of the others are often acting (and usually quite well), Davies inhabits the character with quiet confidence and underplayed mastery. His “If you prick us” speech was the show’s dramatic highlight. For their comic contributions, Brand Bruce’s impish Gratiano adds fun and Luke Schares’ Arragon gets plenty of laffs, but he did take the easy approach with his foppish portrayal.  The drama is more focused in Act Two. The opening is sweetly romantic and the climatic courtroom encounter is powerfully compelling. Despite some broad physical interchanges, director Jan Powell has employed simple staging to keep the focus on the emotional energy of the interactions. The costumes by Devario Simmons have an interesting timeless beauty that suggests period style with modern flair (and reminded me of Norma Kamali’s classic designs).


THE POINT: The love stories are well-played and Jan Powell’s direction confident, but it’s Matthew Radford Davies incisive creation that dominates the drama.


4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)


A Quill Theatre production of The Richmond Shakespeare Festival at Agecroft Hall thru 7/31


merchant 2

Joseph Bromfield as Bassanio, Iman Shabazz as Antonio, Addie Barnhart as Portia, Matthew Radford Davies as Shylock (Photos by Aaron Sutten)


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