Tonight’s press performance of The Merchant of Venice at Shakespeare’s Globe has been postponed until 28 June 2007, following the “sudden indisposition” of Michelle Duncan, who had been playing Portia.

Rebecca Gatward’s production has been running in rep with Othello, starring Eamonn Walker in the title role, since 2 June, but when Duncan was unable to perform the evening performance on Friday 8 June, fellow company member Kirsty Besterman filled in at the last minute. Besterman will remain in the role until a permanent replacement is cast and rehearsed.

In The Merchant of Venice, wealthy heiress Portia sets potential suitors a challenge. As part of the efforts to win her over, Antonio borrows from the moneylender Shylock, who demands a pound of flesh should Antonio default on the loan.

John McEnery stars as Shylock. McEnery’s previous Globe credits are Pericles, Henry V, As You Like It, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside, A Mad World My Masters, Antony and Cleopatra, King Lear, Richard II, Edward II and Romeo and Juliet. He also created the role of Hamlet in Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

Commenting on the press night postponement, Globe artistic director Dominic Dromgoole said: "We are all extremely proud of Rebecca Gatward's imaginative and exciting production of The Merchant of Venice - and were greatly enjoying Michelle Duncan's performance as Portia. However, due to her sudden indisposition, she is sadly no longer with the company. We have taken the decision to delay the press night to find a replacement for the role, which has already been delighting audiences in preview."

Also in the company are: Philip Bird, Cornelius Booth, Jim Bywater, Philip Cumbus, Leander Deeny, Craig Gazey, Adam Kay, Pippa Nixon, Chris Obi, Dale Rapley, Mark Rice-Oxley and Nicholas Shaw. The Merchant of Venice, employing Renaissance staging and costumes, is designed by Liz Cooke with music by Adrian Lee. It continues in rep until 6 October as part of summer 2007’s “Renaissance + Revolution” season at the Globe.

- by Terri Paddock