Heads Up: The Merchant of Venice
Happy birthday, RSC – and here's your pound of flash
Sunday 10 April 2011
What are we talking about?
Big-name highlight of the Royal Shakespeare Company's summer season and 50th birthday celebrations.
RSC gets its pound of flash.
Rupert Goold, the celebrated artistic director of Headlong Theatre (Enron; Earthquakes in London) resumes his role as RSC associate director, following the lauded Romeo and Juliet which opened 2010's London season.
Patrick Stewart returns to the RSC for the first time since playing Claudius to David Tennant's Hamlet in 2008, to take on Shylock. Susannah Fielding is Portia, and Antonio is played by Scott Handy, who acted alongside Stewart in another Goold Shakespeare, 2007's much frothed over Macbeth.
The Early Buzz
The Daily Mail points out that Stewart "has a fondness for Shylock, having played him twice before: in 1965 at the Bristol Old Vic and in 1978 for the RSC ... He has performed a one-man show titled Shylock: Shakespeare's Alien, where he argued the case for 'one of the most commonly reviled characters in Shakespeare'." A Shakespeare Birthplace Trust blog suggests that "a Jewish audience can find it as difficult to watch The Merchant of Venice as women do The Taming of the Shrew". But they also include a link to a clip of Playing Shakespeare (1984), where Stewart suggests that "'the alleged anti-Semitism of the play ... is a distraction. But I also believe that the 'Jewishness' which is so often emphasised in The Merchant is equally a distraction ... Shylock is essentially an alien, an outsider."
Stewart played William Shakespeare himself recently, albeit in statue form, in the animated film Gnomeo and Juliet.
It's great that...
On 30 April Stewart will receive the Pragnell Shakespeare Birthday Prize in Stratford, awarded annually "for outstanding achievement in extending the appreciation and enjoyment" of Shakespeare's work.
It's a shame that...
A mooted film version of Merchant, starring and produced by Stewart, seems to have stalled – partly due, perhaps, to the big-screen version with Al Pacino.
Given the already-proven combination of Goold's directing talents with Stewart's acting ability, this should be a hit.
The Merchant of Venice is at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon (rsc.org.uk), 13 May to 26 September.
tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods
tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas
comedy Erm...he seems to be back
tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 PlayStation and Xbox hacked by Lizard Squad
- 2 Christmas comes early to Hong Kong, as millions of bank notes spill out onto busy street
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 5 Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
EastEnders Christmas special, review: Brilliant Danny Dyer glues you to your seat
Felicity Jones on being Stephen Hawking's wife in The Theory of Everything: 'I didn't want her to be a saint'
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
Doctor Who series 9: Jenna Coleman staying on for whole season as Clara Oswald
The Interview finally gets US release after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader