The Merchant of Venice (1598): William Shakespeare

Shakespeare: Merchant of Venice

★★★★

(Illyria Theatre at Arundel Castle, 18 August 2018)

Riotous isn’t usually a word that I associate with The Merchant of Venice, but it’s really the only word that does justice to Illyria’s madcap outdoor production currently touring around the UK. Performed by a band of only five actors, who don a breathless variety of roles by running round the back of the stage and reappearing with a new coat or hat (leaving us in tears of laughter while doing so), it was perfect summer Shakespeare. Plus, before I get going, here’s a funny story: we’d also meant to see an outdoor Merchant at Westminster Abbey earlier this month, but as the day moved into evening and the sullen rain strengthened, we decided to chicken out. Imagine our amusement when we arrived at Arundel Castle for our Illyria expedition, and realised that the Westminster show had been Illyria too! We could well have ended up seeing the same show twice. Not that this would have been any great hardship, I hasten to add.

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