Friday, December 2

West Midlands

The Merchant of Venice – Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
West Midlands

The Merchant of Venice – Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

It is not often recognised that this is one of Shakespeare’s comedies and watching this RSC production from 2015 under the direction of Polly Findlay as part of the BBC Culture in Quarantine programme, one would be tempted to say it was a tragedy. I often say that less is more but Johannes Schütz’s set design is so bare that even with its pendulum constantly swinging, it is impossible to decipher a proper sense of time or place which is at the heart of this play about money and how it affects all involved. We begin with Antonio (Jamie Ballard), a prince among Venetian merchants who is unaccountably depressed despite his obvious success as a dealer in luxury goods. His friend Bassanio (Jacob Fortune-Lloyd) in contrast is broke but remains reasonably cheerful as he has a plan to marry Po...
Othello – Birmingham Opera Company
West Midlands

Othello – Birmingham Opera Company

Shakespeare’s Othello is a tragedy which explores timeless themes of race, trust and fidelity and Verdi’s operatic version adds a mesmerising backdrop of powerful music. Birmingham Opera Company’s production is a unique modern interpretation which immersed its original audience within the action of the story and exposes the darkest elements of the story in shocking detail. The opera is sung in English, with occasional subtitles which turn on and off at seemingly random intervals. The opera is performed in a warehouse, with bare brick walls and a blood red carpet, with a live orchestra conducted by Stephen Barlow. As part of the broadcast we see the bewildered and shoeless audience enter the performance space and merge into the Chorus made up of 250 people. It was clearly the intention ...