Review: The Merchant of Venice, Cambridge Arts Theatre

Pictures from The Merchant of Venice

Pictures from The Merchant of Venice - Credit: Contributed

Perhaps one of the most accessible of Shakespeare’s plays, The Merchant of Venice is a story that is engaging now as when it was first written.

And this production by Globe on Tour draws out some of the play’s most interesting themes that resonate today – particularly how society values women.

With plenty of pace, the eight strong cast bowl the story along as the abused Jew Shylock makes a deal with the merchant Antonio that has dramatic repercussions.

Meanwhile the wealthy heiress Portia is wondering which suitor might choose one of three caskets – of gold, silver and lead – and win her hand in marriage.

Casting a woman in the role of Shylock and a slightly older woman in the role of the young maid Portia perhaps makes a statement that resonates with a feminist reading of the play – whatever the thought process behind it the casting works well as the quality of the acting shines through.

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There is plenty of well delivered humour as the story develops towards the famous court scene where Shylock is stymied in his determination to have his pound of flesh.

The final scenes where the great reveal reminds the male characters not to underestimate their women are well executed and the music – performed by the talented cast – is an enjoyable part of the show.

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A fun, energetic and thought provoking rendition of one of the Bard’s finest works.

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