A Tale of Two Cities
The Complete Short Stories
Fahrenheit 451
Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
Navigators of Dune
End of Watch
The Arabian Nights: Tales from a Thousand and One Nights
Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights
Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare
King Henry VI, Part 3
King Henry VI, Part 2
Henry VI, Part 1
King Henry IV, Part Two
King Henry IV, Part 1
Richard II
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America
The Rosie Effect
On the Nature of Things
So Anyway


Friday, July 31, 2015

Merchant of Venice

I'm not exactly what you call on the "cusp" of what is happening in Ottawa and the surrounding area, but my one comment to Barn Door Productions is that I didn't even know you existed!!

Don't get me wrong... I'm glad I found you, but if a friend of mine that lives close to Perth hadn't made an offhanded comment asking if I was going to the Shakespeare play she "heard about" near her, I would still not know you exist! I don't know who does your advertising, and I'm sure it will come down to budgets and such, but every year I see ads and posters for more local companies like "Company of Fools" and "Bear and Company" then myself and some other book/Shakespeare geek friends make plans to see the shows, but I have yet to see an ad or lamp-post poster for you guys.

But after the show I saw last week I am happy to add to your social media exposure if it helps more people know you exist and what you do.

I've driven past this small playhouse called The Full Circle Theatre on Craig street in Perth many times over the years and never known what goes on inside. The inside seems far larger once you're in it and it is a lovely old wooden theatre that used to be a car wash many years ago. Two friendly ladies greeted me and took my ticket and in a very homey atmosphere they also offer pop, snacks and coffee. A wonderful atmosphere.

"The Merchant of Venice", after The Tempest, is another one of my favorite Shakespeare plays. I think I've always loved the "Law and Order" like feel of the final big scene and how Portia finds the loophole in the bond to save Antonio's life and thwart Shylock.

Time for a flashback to high school... The biggest debate you will usually hear with this play is whether or not Shylock is a sympathetic character or not. Does he deserve his treatment? Does he deserve how he is left at the end of play; ruined, alone (abandoned and the victim of theft by his own daughter) and forced to switch to Christianity as punishment for asking that his bond against Antonio be honored? If there was ever a question in my mind, it was laid to rest this night with the performance of Joe Laxton who played Shylock. An excellent stand-out performance that convinced me once and for all that, though a little over the top in his wish for revenge, Shylock was undeserving of the treatment he was victim to before the start of the play. He was called dog and actually spit upon by Antonio in the market because of his beliefs. I loved the "If you prick us, do we not bleed?" speech which convinced me that Shakespeare was trying to buck against the accepted tradition of his time that being cruel to Jews was a good thing to do. And, not to put to fine a point on it, what kind of a genius was Antonio to sign a bond that allowed Shylock to cut out a pound of flesh, and then whine when the penalty for the bond came due?

I feel sorry for Shylock. There was a huge "hooray" by the cast at the end of play as everyone ends happy ever after with their loves. Except for Shylock who lies on the ground... broken, alone, abandoned, and forced to disavow his religion. Antonio may not have "deserved" death, but neither did he warrant living happy ever after with most of his ships returned and granted half of Shylocks lands and fortune.

There seemed to be some real chemistry between Portia and Bassanio, and it wasn't until after I got home and looked up some of the cast that I found they are actually married! The second stand-out performance for me was Kristy Angel who played Portia. I really enjoyed her and Narissa's banter and reactions as the suitors try to guess which of the 3 caskets contains Portia's picture.

Well done guys. I'm glad I found you and I look forward to other productions.



  1. Many thanks for your comments! We do appreciate the support of our patrons.

    We try to have a presence in Ottawa, but the fact is, we are a Perth-based community theatre with a miniscule budget. Any amounts we put into advertising in Ottawa would be lost and would take away from what we put into advertising in our own area.

    We're taking a few days to breathe before we plunge into our 21st season. Do, please, remember us!

    David Jacklin
    BarnDoor Productions (Perth)