Next Best Thing productions

The Merchant of Venice
by William Shakespeare

Next Best Thing productions - The Merchant of Venice

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12th , 13th and 14th November 1994
University of East Anglia Drama Studio, Norwich

Charles Marenghi
Richard Jones
Anita Frank
Warren Howard
Kelly Westlake
Alastair Elliot
Steve Burnell
Tim Grey
Anna-Marie Currie
John Myers
Bernard Allen
Hannah Boulton
Aaron Baylick
Simon Jones
Claire Underwood

Directed by Will Bird
Produced by Stuart Berry
Original Music by Tobie Rudd
Music performed by the Next Best Band

A fresh and contemporary twist on Shakespeare's familiar tale of greed and treachery this was an ambitious undertaking for the fledgling company. Aided by the huge, stark white studio space of the venue we were able to produce a startling and intense production in an almost empty, timeless setting. The philosophy of the production was to bring it right up to date, with Bassanio using a laptop computer and an early mobile phone making an unwelcome appearance at a dramatic moment. Portia was portrayed as a hounded celebrity in the mould of Princess Diana and was first seen posing for a Hello magazine photographer. Against this Shylock remained the bitter and twisted outsider, unable to comprehend the values of the Christian wheelers and dealers (whose entrance on stage owed a little to "Reservoir Dogs") he does business with. The youthful cast brought extraordinary depth and eloquence to their roles and in the leading parts Charles Marenghi (as Antonio), Richard Jones (as Shylock) and Anita Frank (as Portia) were simply magnificent.

Further class was added to proceedings with a beautiful, specially commissioned classical soundtrack performed live by an onstage string quartet and composed by undergraduate wunderkind Tobie Rudd.

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