The Merchant of Venice

Theatre, Drama
Geoff Sirmai as Shylock in Streamed Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice
Photograph: Supplied Geoff Sirmai as Shylock in Streamed Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice

Time Out says

Shakespeare's greatest courtroom drama streams live as the Bard goes digital

The ghost lights may still be on in most, if not all, Sydney theatres right now, but that doesn’t mean you need to go without drama in your life. Streamed Shakespeare, the team behind recent digital productions The Tempest and Titus Andronicus, have upped their game.

Moving from pared-back staged readings to socially distant but technically whizzy productions, Latest offering The Merchant of Venice is sure to dazzle. Packing meaty debates on justice, mercy, power, money, bigotry and vengeance, Shylock’s cry still gives us shivers. “If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”

Best-selling author, former broadcaster and arts marketing whizz Geoff Sirmai will star as Shylock, the merchant himself. Jess Loudon, who scored rave reviews for her appearances at the Pop-Up Globe and Sydney Fringe show The Works of Shakespeare by Chicks, plays Portia to Kogarah-based American actor and director Haki Pepo Olu Crisden (who helmed Titus) as Antonio.

As directed by Roslyn Hicks, each lead will perform the famous tragedy via Zoom. But the show will be digitally stitched together involving animated backgrounds, visual effects and a full musical score, almost akin to a movie. The themes of tolerance versus inclusion, revenge versus reconciliation layered through the Bard’s complex drama promises to be as riveting as ever in these highly charged times.

Hicks draws attention to a line spoken by Portia as being particularly relevant to today. “The passage I keep coming back to is ‘I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done than to be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching’. I think it sums up our hypocrisy when we know what the better thing to do would be, but it is much harder to be the one humble enough actually to do it.”

The digital season streams live on Friday, August 21 at 11.45am, Saturday, August 22 at 7pm and Sunday, August 23 at 2pm. Streamed Shakespeare’s artistic director Holly Champion, Hicks and several cast members will also take part on a Q&A after the Friday performance that’s aimed at schools. Ticket prices are TBC, but will be v reasonable. So secure your pound of flesh by signing up here, and you can check out previous performances here.

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