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A Week In Theatre: A Merchant, A Hoarder and One Very Messed-Up Family

When I first began this blog, I promised that it would have a variety of posts, ranging from day-to-day to the rare occasions. So this week is probably the best to begin one of my favourite things: theatre reviews. In true 'me' fashion, I have ended up at the theatre not once, not twice, but three times this week...

Monday: The Merchant Of Venice @ The RSC

"All that glisters is not gold."

Going into Merchant, I had a rather unnerving feeling about it. I'd seen a production around a year ago at Shakespeare's Globe, which had been funny, witty and beautifully set, so I desperately didn't want to tarnish my view of the play. But I needn't have feared. Polly Findlay's production seemed to burst with a different kind of energy, something darker, something menacing. The love between Antonio and Bassanio was interpreted here as sexual love, making the latter's betrayal of Portia all the more powerful, and Antonio's bargain with Shylock all the more personal. This was a Merchant which knew no bounds, plunging the magnetically reflective stage into darkness, reflecting the audience back upon themselves. It made for a clear metaphor about the reflection of yourself that others see, personified the most in Shylock, who was tormented and spat on by the world around him. It was a beautifully poignant interpretation of a text that could end so joyfully, instead leaving it on a sourer and very open-ended note. I was most impressed by the inclusion of Nadia Albina, a one handed actress who had utter equality throughout, making this a groundbreaking production.

Wednesday: Three Days In The Country @ The National Theatre

"It is the ones who love us most who are intent on poking our wounds."

As a complete advocate of the National Theatre, I took a friend for a birthday trip down to London to see their latest adaptation of Turgenev's classic play, heralding a wonderfully diverse cast and beautifully intimate setting of the Lyttelton Theatre. The set was simple yet effective, the red door opening into a world of lies and passions, whilst chairs around the outer stage served as 'offstage', so the audience could see the whole cast at all times. Standout performances came from Mark Gatiss in an unusually comedic role, relying heavily on his physical comedy in the second half, and Amanda Drew, who made you both despise and feel sorry for her Natalya. As all the women began to fall in love, you became aware of the different types of love shown throughout the ages and life stages of the women, ranging from first love to true love found a little too late. A production that quite simply shone with poignant imagery, it will be one of the National's most understated yet fine works.

Friday: Volpone @ The RSC

"Mischiefs feed like beasts. Till they be fat, and then they bleed."
 And to end the week, Volpone. And what a production. I didn't think it would be an astounding production, but it went above and beyond any expectation I had. Henry Goodman was absolutely magnetizing as the aspiring Midas, making the audience his confidant as he glided his way through Johnson's dialogue as if he had been speaking it all his life. Orion Lee's devious Mosca was also a highlight, his masks of deception undeniably creepy as he and his master wove their complicated plot around their unassuming devotees. Never before had I seen 21st century technology integrated so seamlessly into a Jacobean script, with Lady Politic Would-Be's Made In Chelsea-esque documentary, and Volpone's use of screens to futher his scam. A truly wonderful production that I would absolutely recommend to anyone who has even the tiniest interest in theatre.

Adios my little blog. See you when I see you.

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