Adelaide Fringe

Shylock – Adelaide Fringe 2011

Presented by the Centre for International Theatre
Reviewed Saturday 19th February 2011

Venue: Royalty Theatre, Angas Street, Adelaide
Season: 9pm to 27th Feb.
Duration: 90mins
Tickets: all tickets $23/group 6+ $20

Having just seen CIT’s Adolf, it was an interesting experience to go straight on to see Shylock. The commonality in themes linked the two productions yet the presentation of the anti-Semitic message was extremely different. Although Shakespeare’s title, The Merchant of Venice, refers to Antonio, it is the Jewish money lender, Shylock, who is the best known character. Guy Masterson introduces himself as Tubal, a minor character in Shakespeare’s play, a friend of Shylock and the only other Jew in all of Shakespeare’s works. With only eight lines in the play he has time to observe those around him and they way in which they treat Shylock and he treats them.

Masterson switches between Tubal and the actor playing the role, then expands the compass of his musings to stretch back over centuries of anti-Semitism, through Shakespeare’s play, its history, the theatre in general and in reality. He places the play in the context of the time when it was written and the situation facing Jews throughout Europe. He goes back to Pontius Pilate, the persecution and expulsion of Jews from Europe, Barabas, Christopher Marlowe’s Jew of Malta and the way in which he and Shylock were first portrayed through to the change in that portrayal over the years by various famous actors of the past.

This is a highly rewarding exposition of Shakespeare’s famous character, told with great skill and plenty of good humour by a host of characters, each brought into sharp focus by Masterson’s amazingly versatile acting skills. Masterson’s interpretation of every character is believable, no matter how fleetingly they appear, and it all adds up to a marvellous evening of top quality theatre that, again, should be one that is on your list.

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.

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