Successful Shakespeare in Shute

PUBLISHED: 17:16 02 November 2010


Shute Theatre and Arts Guild tackled the Merchant of Venice with confidence

East Devon theatregoers have good reason to be grateful to the Shute Theatre and Arts Guild for regularly bringing us quality productions of plays that have special merit as works of literature.

They are one of very few companies, locally, prepared to venture into producing Shakespeare. At the end of October, in Shute Church, STAG staged the Bard’s The Merchant of Venice, writes Nigel Freathy.

The part of Shylock was superbly played by David Clarke, who conveyed, brilliantly, the hardness of the money lender, whilst at the same time, making him so much more than a pantomime villain. Portia was played by Victoria Pearce. She was suitably attractive and alluring as the love interest of Bassanio, but also was convincingly grave and wise when considering her judgement in the famous court scene. She was also able to be suitably skittish when gossiping with her servant, Nerissa, (effectively played by Katie Forder) or when planning a trick on their men folk. As Antonio, Richard Stenning, gave one of his very best performances.

Elina Baker and Heather White were the two gentlemen of Venice who acted as narrators to the play and they played their parts with energy. David Shackleton was an engaging Lancelot Gobbo. Tony Hansell and Ambra Edwards, as the two Dukes, were suitably earnest in their pursuit of Portia. Helena Laughton and Adam Smith–Jones made a delightful pair of young lovers who crossed the religious and cultural divide. Antonio’s great friend, Bassanio, was played by Simon Ford. Simon’s portrayal made him a very likeable character throughout. Other parts were played by Marion Hansell, Daniel Forder, Derek House and Michael Coles.

The church itself was the set. The costumes and wigs were all excellent, as were the background music, the lights and the props. The skilled hand of producer, Elisabeth Miller, was evident throughout, not only in the interpretation of the play, but also in the choreography of movement and also in the skilled delivery of the lines and carefully planned hand gestures, facial expressions and body movements. The play moved at a great pace with no gaps and the production was in every respect a notable achievement.

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