Queen’s Theatre ends its spring season with a glitzy interpretation of what’s believed to be the Bard’s breakthrough as a dramatist.
Natasha Moore (Jessica) and Sam Korbacheh (Lorenzo) inn The Merchant of Venice at the Queenâ€™s Theatre, Hornchurch (previous picture shows Matt Devitt as Shylock) Photo: Nobby Clark
More than a decade has passed since internationally acclaimed director Glen Walford’s last Queen’s production and on this evidence, and this production is definitely worth the wait.
Making a welcome appearance stage-side of the curtain, Queen’s associate director Matt Devitt delivers a performance befitting such an integral character, as scornful ducat-driven Shylock. The personification of ruthlessness, yet also sorrow, Devitt taps into a whole spectrum of emotions for his bearded rotund Jew.
Stuart Organ’s rasping-voiced Antonio is as passionately conveyed as Devitt’s Shylock, although the latter utters the most heartfelt words: “If you prick us, do we not bleed?”
Re-acquainted with their trusty instruments, the resident actor-musicians are joined by Dominic Gerrard, as besotted and loyal Bassanio and the commanding Josie Taylor, as shrewd Portia, both marking their Queen’s debuts commendably.
While Rodney Ford’s Venetian set remains fairly static, with few transitions throughout the plot strands, outrageous costumes reminiscent of the New Romantic era of the 1980s add verve, and the casket conundrum scenes and court proceedings are certainly high on tension. Some of the dramatic scenes could be acted with less comedy, one of only few criticisms.
Queen’s Theatre’s Shakespeare production is a gamble that pays off and whether paying in pounds, ducats or even a pound of flesh, it’s a fee well spent.