Merchant of Venice

IAN CLARKE Illyria Open Air Theatre Company at High Lodge Forest Centre, Thetford Forest

IAN CLARKE

I'm convinced the Bard would have watched it and approved greatly.

The passion, commitment and refreshing antithesis of a Prima Dona attitude to acting from the amazing team from Illyria makes me sure this was Shakespeare as he intended.

There was no stage crew, no roadies, no programme sellers, no wardrobe assistants and no warm up act.

The five-strong cast did it all. It really shouldn't work – but it did. And it did beautifully.

The clear summer evening in the forest was a fine location for this memorable evening and the large appreciative audience lapped up the entertainment while enjoying their picnics and glass or two of fine wine.

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The fact that after their appearance at Thetford, the touring company was off to the West Midlands for a show the following night and then back in Norfolk last night for a date at Blickling and in Somerset tonight, enforces further the commitment and dedication.

The Merchant is a mix of comedy, powerful emotion and strong moral undertones.

The latter two were properly portrayed and the comedy elements were outstanding and very well received by the viewers.

I loved the gondola driver coming on quoting Shakespeare language and then all of a sudden slipping into a rendition of Just One Cornetto and then moving seamlessly back into the plot.

One example of a very, very clever production.

For more information on Illyria see its website: www.illyria.uk.com

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