Merchant of Venice – Behind the Scenes

BEHIND THE SCENES AT LANCASTER CASTLE, MICHAEL NUNN drops in on a rehearsal for demi~paradise’s forthcoming tenth anniversary production of THE MERCHANT of VENICE

I arrive at the Lancaster Castle on a bitterly cold evening, just in time to catch the cast, Producer Steve Tomlin and Director Sue McCormick. Over a steaming cuppa, she tells me that they’re into the fourth week of rehearsals, with one more to go, then the final pre-opening sessions.

‘The play is ideally suited to the Castle’ Steve Tomlin tells me. ‘We’re using the Shire Hall, Crown Court and Hadrian’s Tower’ Sue adds. I asked whether they were making any cuts to the text. ‘Nips and tucks rather than huge chunks’, Sue says. ‘We’ve merged some of the smaller, walk-on parts into one.’

I wondered about costume and music. ‘We’ve set it in Georgian times during Lancaster’s maritime trade. Venice was a very important commercial centre and international seaport in Shakespeare’s time, so we thought that would make a good parallel!’

Jude Glendinning’s score includes accordion, guitar and four-part vocals. It nicely punctuates the lyrical, dramatic and beautiful moments in the play. It also helps set the atmosphere and prepare the mood for the next scene. That’s just how it should be. Shylock, often seen as the villain of the piece, is not being played as a monster or as a caricature.

I noted that there was a social, cordial atmosphere as the cast enjoyed their refreshments. ‘We all get on extremely well together as a team,’ said Sue, ‘There a lot of good working banter and we all have a laugh’.

That was a good sign, I thought. ‘The play’s not really a comedy, a political play, pure drama or a romance. It’s a complex mixture of all of these things’, said Steve. ‘It’s well structured and beautifully balanced’.

In the light of that shrewd and perceptive analysis, I was confident that demi~paradise’s latest offering was going to be just as rewarding and distinctive an evening out as have all this Lancaster-based company’s previous shows.

Book now to avoid disappointment.

The Merchant of Venice runs from Thursday 25th February till Saturday 20th March, at 7.30 pm. There will be no performances on 28th Feb; 1st, 7th, 14th March. Student matinée at 2pm on Saturday 6th March. There is also a £10 preview on Tuesday 23rd, pay on the door, 7pm

Tickets cost £23 (Fri/Sat) & £21 (Mon-Thurs) from the Box Office on 01524 64998 or at the Castle.


One Response

  1. Thanks to Michael and Sue Seddon for sending this.

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