Saturday, September 29 at 10:00 am
THE MERCHANT OF VENICE (2001)
Written By William Shakespeare
RUN TIME: 163 minutes
CAST: David Bamber, Henry Goodman, Peter De Jersey, Mark Umbers
CREDITS: Director- Chris Hunt, Trevor Nunn
Trevor Nunn’s multi-award-winning production of The Merchant of Venice has been adapted, produced and directed by the same team who won the international Emmy for the screen version of Oklahoma! Nunn’s production, set between the two world wars, was moved to Pinewood Studios immediately after the finish of its run at the National Theatre. It was produced there over three weeks, directed by Trevor Nunn with Chris Hunt.
Henry Goodman (who won the Olivier and Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards for Best Actor for his performance as Shylock) leads the original National Theatre cast, which also includes David Bamber (Antonio), Derbhle Crotty (Portia) and Alexander Hanson (Bassanio).
Trevor Nunn’s National Theatre production of The Merchant of Venice was greeted by The Times as “the best Merchant for many years”, while The Independent on Sunday called it “exemplary” and The Sunday Times thought it “magnificent”.
Henry Goodman gives an actor’s viewpoint on the differences between stage and screen. “People think we tone a performance down for film, and that’s true. But at the same time it’s important that it’s not weakened. It’s just made more essential; it’s distilled.”
The starting point for the whole production of The Merchant of Venice was Nunn’s desire to deal with the issue of anti-Semitism. He wished to alter the way in which Shylock is commonly perceived by making the character’s actions comprehensible to us. Goodman, who delivers perhaps the most memorable Shylock for a generation, shares his director’s non-judgemental vision of the character. “Many people think this play shouldn’t be done. They say that as a Jewish actor, it is appalling that I allow myself to perpetuate this cliché. There is certainly a danger of carrying on the demonology, but I say to those people ‘come and see our production.’ We try to inhabit the play in a way that is fresh and true. We’ve found a better balance in it. We try to show why Shylock is pushed to the limit by the racism of society. Where are the trigger points when anger turns him? The play is full of greys rather than blacks and whites. It is not a picture of pure goodies and baddies. The Christians mock Shylock, but they also realise when they’ve gone too far. The play is about a clash of beliefs, as opposed to a clash of good and evil. Shylock is a religious man, and the morality he believes in isn’t necessarily better than anything else. Yet he has to believe that it is in order to maintain his faith. That’s both his doing and his undoing.”
The result is a memorable production, which captures the moody power of the original production while endowing it with fresh screen intensity. The film works so well because Nunn is keenly aware that to move to film you have to create a whole new artistic entity. ”The trick is to make a completely new piece of work while preserving the original piece of work. We’re aiming for this to be a film in its own right, and we’re making the theatrical roots work for rather than against us.”
Adult price is $15
Seniors and Children & Military $13.50