Richard Lutz takes his seat at Stratford- on- Vegas for the latest Royal Shakespeare Company play.
This is a production you will either love or hate: Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice placed emphatically and over the top in Las Vegas complete with Elvis, casinos, drunk gamblers and a Yank accents (some of them suspect).
It is Merchant of Venice done as wry brash modern comedy. In fact, I didn’t know just how much funny stuff was in the play- but then again, it was referred to as a comedy way back when.
So Shylock (Patrick Stewart) appears as a stolid unbending character set in his ways amid the colour, loud music and riotous life of The Strip. The Prince of Morocco, come to woo Portia is a George Forman lookalike complete with boxing gloves and love handles aplenty, the supporting character Launcelot is Elvis (he does many of The King’s songs) and when a couple elope, they do so in disguise as Batman and Robin.
So..if you go, know what you’re in for. I saw more than one audience member purse his lips and frown for 2 and a half horus until the curtain came down. Others were in hysterics.
Actress Susannah Fielding, who plays Portia, does her Dolly Parton empty headed southern belle stuff to a tee, teasing out alot of comedy in the double entendres. She skillfully goes through 4 different roles: as southern belle, knowing tv chatshow hostess, hard headed disguised barrister in the trial scene and unmasked lover who ends the play not knowing who she is as she ultimately doubts her new husband.
It’s a mega-tricksy and garish production. Be prepared to either hate it or love it
+ Box Office: 0844 800 1110. Runs until 26 September