The Merchant of Venice portrays an emotional tale encompassing friendship, romance, religion and business. Set in the very near future amidst political and financial chaos, society, as we know it, is on the brink of collapse. The stock markets are flat lining; the Euro has collapsed, creating an increasingly cutthroat trading environment for the business community. Venice, with its gondolas, opera and beautiful skies is no longer safe… Meanwhile, beautiful, wealthy Portia finds herself the star of her very own reality TV show, with men playing a ?Game of Chance’ in a battle to win her love. Desperate to help best friend Bassanio win Portia’s hand, fledgling businessman Antonio enters a perilous arrangement with Jewish moneylender Shylock, as he promises a pound of his own flesh. Antonio learns a hard lesson when the revenge-seeking Shylock comes to collect his bond.
It is London in 1936 – fascism is sweeping across Europe, and Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists is threatening to march through the Jewish East End. Shylock (Tracy Ann Oberman – Eastenders, Doctor Who, Friday Night Dinner) is a survivor of anti-Semitic pogroms in Russia. A widow, she runs a small business from her dark and cramped terraced house in Cable Street, hoping to give daughter Jessica a better future. When aristocratic anti-semite Antonio desperately needs a loan, he makes a dangerous bargain with this woman he has spat on in the street. Will Shylock, bitter from a life plagued by racism and abuse, take her revenge? A vivid evocation of our history, and a warning for our times.