Absolutely sensational! By far the best of the three canonical Shakespeare plays currently playing at Stratford. I'm only sorry I won't be able to see the show again. Let's hope this production will be captured on film. - J D Atkinson
24 Sep 11
We thoroughly enjoyed yesterday's Saturday matinee performance. Really quirky. Love the new theatre layout too. - Sarah
28 Aug 11
Having seen Northern Broadside's Barry Rutter in the role of Shylock we anticipated Patrick Stewart would be at least "measure for measure". Sadly, this production whilst truly having high spots, for us at least hit many low spots. Both Antonio and Shylock failed to make any impression; I don't think I had ever felt so indifferent to Shylock's end or Antonio's possible end. Just glad when the whole thing was over. Elvis was the best character but out of four of us we were unanimous in NOT enjoying this play at all. - Pip Bayley
23 Aug 11
Modern re-setting of Shakespeare is a bit hit-and-miss, though director Rupert Gould has a better hit rate than most; his Stalinist Macbeth is probably the best production of that play I’ve ever seen. So it’s good to report another hit with what is probably his most risky re-setting, in a very contemporary Las Vegas!
Apart from modern dress, he hasn’t really tampered with Antonio and Shylock. Portia and her friend Nerissa, however, are straight out of Legally Blonde, Launcelot Gobbo is an Elvis impersonator (and a good one too!), the Prince of Morocco a big black boxer, the Duke of Venice becomes a mafia godfather, the Prince of Aragon a Spanish stereotype and Gratiano a small time gangster! We’re in a casino, there are a couple of showgirls with feather headdresses and those who claim Portia and her fortune do so in full TV game show tradition. We get what seems to be Elvis’ entire back catalogue, with an unseen big band at the back of the stage.
Of course, it heightens the comedy but the surprise is that it increases the impact of the drama too. The scene where Shylock’s claim is played out has never been more tense and even though you know exactly what’s going to happen, you wince as the knife touches the flesh. The anti-semiticism also seemed heightened, with the audience audibly shocked when Gratiano spits on Shylock as he leaves dejected. This really was staging that served the play.
Patrick Stewart is a great Shylock, but its Susannah Fielding who steals the show as Portia, both in blonde wig and high heels and posing as the male lawyer. I liked Richard Riddell’s Bassanio, but felt Scott Handy as Antonio was a bit too subdued and introspective. There are great supporting performances from Jamie Beamish as Launcelot, Howard Charles as Gratiano and Emily Plumtree as Nerissa.
This was my first visit to the new RST, which is really a large Swan; almost as much closeness as next door and a lot more than before. If this staging was anything to go by, it is a space where you can stage spectacular scenes and intimate conversations. I loved both the show and the space.
- Gareth James
21 Jul 11
Absolutely fan-tastic! A memorable, spectacular production with a superb cast. I thoroughly enjoyed it. - Dinah
02 Jul 11
Extraordinary experience, most unexpected and refreshing. - Jane Gooch/ Bill Ardagh
01 Jul 11
I think I have been lucky to see about 90% of all RSC productions over the last 5 years or so including the complete works festival . This is the first production where I have walked out at the interval! Poor!! - Steve
08 Jun 11
The play has certainly been turned on its head...no problem with that but not being a fan of Game Shows or Elvis,I wish it could have speeded up a bit...3 and a quarter hours of yankee drawl was too much for me! - Artsgoer
25 May 11
Saw it 21st May. Excellent play. It emphasises - in a tragic ending of the play - three doomed relationships and sexual tension between Antonio and Bassanio; rather than the 'miracle', "all's well . . . " ending of the text. The Las Vegas setting was good, but the Elvis music was naggingly kitschy for Shakespeare and reduced the experience. - Mark
23 May 11
This production is a knock-out...the play is reworked to stunning effect, funny, exciting and thrilling. The audience loved it. I want to see it a second time. - Paulo2003
20 May 11
Spot on. Goold's production is vibrant, sexy and laugh out loud funny but, crucially, does not flinch from the cruel anti-Semitism at the heart of this play. Shylock's monstrous thirst for revenge is driven by the way Antonio and his ilk insult and exclude him. Stewart is powerful but Susannah Fielding gives a spellbinding, multi-layered performance. - Leon Burakowski
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