Search

The Merchant of Venice, The Cockpit Theatre, review: ‘The audience feels complicit in the play’s creation’

PUBLISHED: 18:06 05 October 2017 | UPDATED: 18:06 05 October 2017

Jonathan McGarrity in The Merchant of Venice. Picture: Camillla Greenwell

Jonathan McGarrity in The Merchant of Venice. Picture: Camillla Greenwell

Archant

Shake-scene Shakespeare’s cue script The Merchant of Venice is almost as much of a surprise for the cast as for the audience - and it’s a thrill

Waiting for The Merchant of Venice to start, I’m feeling nervous, so I can’t imagine how the cast are feeling. They haven’t rehearsed and they only found out who was playing which other characters two hours ago.

Shake-scene Shakespeare’s cue script production is as close as we can get to seeing theatre the way 16th century audiences would have – minus the heckling and braying (dependant on the crowd). In the Cockpit space, there’s really nowhere to hide.

Lizzie Conrad Hughes is currently the only director in the UK to be producing theatre this way. She sits in the wings, closely following the script and offering assistance when players shout “line!” or seem to need a little nudge.

It takes a few minutes to get used to the format, especially if you’re a regular theatre-goer, but it does have a certain unique and sparky sensitivity.

A Shakespearean comedy, where you know things will turn out alright in the end (for most, anyway), is the perfect setting for a format such as this. It adds another layer to the jocular cake to hear that slight inflection or see that little smile of anticipation.

While an ounce of intensity is lost at some moments of gravity – Alexandra Kataigida’s shining performance as Shylock notwithstanding – there are times when I forget that the cast haven’t rehearsed. This takes quite some acting skill on their parts and makes you consider just how much preparation they must have done, on their own and with Lizzie, to get to a point of such natural onstage chemistry.

Jonathan McGarrity and Charlotte Gallagher’s are the standout stars as Bassanio and Portia. Gallagher’s command of the stage only grows as the story goes on and, out of all the cast, she operates the uncertainty with the greatest confidence, her own sense of humour bleeding through.

It is a thrill to see the cast enjoying the surprise as much as us. The prevailing result of the cue script performance is that it allows the audience to feel complicit in the play’s creation. The pauses and breaks create our own personalised show that no other audience will get to see.

4/5 stars

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hackney Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hackney Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hackney Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Hackney Stories

19 minutes ago

The Argentinean said: “Daniel Levy and I have spoken at length about our aspirations for Tottenham Hotspur. We both share the same philosophies

The O’s director of football has had two bouts of depression in the past, but is enjoying life at Brisbane Road and will be there on Sunday

The 17-year-old caught the eye for Heybridge Swifts and Leatherhead last season and has agreed a two-year contract with O’s

13:00

London Lions saw their hopes of landing the BBL play-off Championship title shattered by Leicester Riders at the O2 Arena on Sunday.

22 minutes ago

Three remarkable women in Hackney have been honoured at the third annual I Love Hackney Mayor’s Civic Awards.

53 minutes ago

For the past year, passing through the London Overground station at Hackney Wick has felt like walking through a construction site.

A charity match in aid of Prostate Cancer UK and East Hertfordshire Mind Network is taking place at Brisbane Road on Sunday

A Hackney drug dealer’s remarkable journey out of crime and conversion to Islam has been documented in a pair of films.

PROMOTED CONTENT

To celebrate LGBT history month, Hackney resident Amanda talks about her journey to becoming a foster carer, with the council’s support and training.



Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read entertainment

Show Job Lists