The Merchant of Venice - on tour

London theatre news: Thursday 27 February 2020

Shakespeare - Shows - Tours

Tracy Ann Oberman is to star as Shylock in a new production of The Merchant of Venice set to tour from September with a stop-off at Rose Theatre Kingston.
The Merchant of Venice at the Rose Theatre Kingston

Image courtesy Rose Theatre Kingston

A major co-production between five leading regional theatres, The Merchant of Venice will star Tracy Ann Oberman (EastEnders, Friday Night Dinner, Toast of London) in the role of Shylock and is set to tour from 4 September to 14 November.

This new production is led by Watford Palace Theatre in partnership with Leeds Playhouse, Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse, Nuffield Southampton Theatres and Rose Theatre Kingston.

Tour dates are ...

4 - 19 Sept - Nuffield Theatre, Southampton

22 Sept - 3 Oct - Liverpool Playhouse

6 - 17 Oct - Watford Palace Theatre

20 - 31 Oct - Leeds Playhouse

3 - 14 Nov - Rose Theatre Kingston

Directed by Brigid Larmour, Artistic Director of Watford Palace Theatre, the setting for the play will be the London of the 1930s.

Ms Oberman was inspired to reframe the play's locational setting based on her own great grandmother's experience as a single mother in the East End of London.

Drawing on her family history of her grandmother and uncles who were on the front line at The Battle of Cable Street as children, Ms Oberman reimagines Shylock as an East End matriarch, a refugee from pogroms in Russia.

This timely retelling sees Shylock as a widow, and a survivor, running a small business from a dark and cramped terraced house in Cable Street, trying to give her daughter Jessica a better quality of life.

Tracy Ann Oberman said ...

"I've always wanted to reclaim The Merchant in some way and wanted to see how it would change with a single mother, female Shylock.

My own great grandma and great aunts were single mothers, widows, left in the East End to run the businesses and the homes which they did with an iron fist.

When I spoke about it to Brigid, she instantly got it, and said it gave a brilliant way into the problematic aspects of characters like Antonio and Portia -  she saw them as aristocratic young Mosleyites, supporters of the British Union of Fascists led by Oswald Mosley.

That led us to an East End Cable Street, with pawn shops and money lending under the counter of shmatter stalls and seamstress jobs, in the weeks leading up to Mosley's Fascist march against 'The Jew' in 1936."

Brigid Larmour said ...

"The great Polish critic Jan Kott called Shakespeare 'our contemporary.'

This production brings together Tracy's powerful stage presence as an actor with her courageous activism, in a story with acute contemporary resonance.

Our national sense of pride in the 'Britain stood alone' view of 1940 can sometimes makes us forget how much support there was for fascism here in the 30s.

It is dangerous to forget."

Listing details for the performances at Rose Theatre Kingston are given below - see the links section for other theatre websites where the production will play.


Nuffield Theatre, Southampton

Liverpool Playhouse

Watford Palace Theatre

Leeds Playhouse

Rose Theatre Kingston

The Merchant of Venice - Wikipedia

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