The Pembroke Players from Cambridge University returned to Japan for the sixth Shakespeare tour in a row on October 4, 2014. This time they performed The Merchant of Venice, chosen for its ability to be at once a comedy and an insightful exploration of human nature.
Portia and Shylock are both trapped by the rules of society, but everything is about to change. Bassanio, in need of money to court the lovely Portia, allows his friend to put his life on the line. Luckily, when everything starts to backfire, Portia finally takes fate into her own hands. This production delves into the intriguing humanity at the heart of Shakespeare’s characters and examines the fascinating and complex relationships they have with each other, leaving open for debate the question of who the real villains are.
The production was fresh, clear and faithful, bringing the worlds of Belmont and Venice to life with their respective drives of love and finance.
The show made use of clean, simple lighting design to let the different worlds of the play be captured, emphasising the difference between Belmont’s ethereality and the more earthly force of Venice. So too did the characters aesthetically adopt the principles of their worlds, with the sharp lines of Italian economy-driven state contrasting against the more fairytale dress of the unobtainable Belmont princess and her cohort. Ultimately, this production focused on bringing to life the relentless dichotomies, questions and complex relationships of Shakespeare’s rich text in a way that was both thought-provoking and punchy.
Photos of the production can be viewed ::HERE::.