Review: The Merchant of Venice showing in Spalding

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Screened live at South Holland Centre by the RSC.

The Merchant of Venice was written around 400 years ago, but spoke to so many of today’s issues.

Never a lender nor a borrower be, a phrase drilled in to this reviewer so often in childhood with, in later life, the addendum, And never ever lend or borrow from friends.

And there was Bassanio doing just that, and putting his friend Antonio into debt just so that he could go courting.

And who did Antonio turn to for funds? Shylock, the despised Jewish money lender who demands his pound of flesh – literally – if Antonio defaults on his debt.

And there rises the ugly face of anti-Semitism portrayed so ably by the celebrated Israeli Arab actor Makram Khoury. Shylock eventually has his house and wealth confiscated, and that too mirrors the ongoing conflict and land grabs going on in the West Bank.

It was fabulously performed, in modern dress, and a wonderful mélange of humour, romance, high drama and tragedy.

The performance was, sadly, occasionally marred by an interruption in signal, so we did lose some dialogue. But otherwise it was a thoroughly enjoyable production.

Jean Hodge

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