Tag Archives: Steve Hopley

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE

Mark Lee plays Shylock in Steve Hopley's revival of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE
Mark Lee plays Shylock in Steve Hopley’s revival of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE

According to the “Athens” Merchant of Venice website, “Shakespeare and Anti-Semitism: The Question of Shylock,” there are two views on the plays alleged anti-Semitism. First, the text presented strong evidence of Shakespeare’s purpose to portray Shylock as an “inhuman” villain “whose diabolical cunning” was “bent on gratifying a satanic lust for Christian flesh” (Athens 1).

Conversely, many people also feel that the play exposes shortcomings equally in Christians as well as Jews. It could however be surmised that Elizabethan audiences were anti- Semitic. Remember, it was just 300 years earlier, in 1290, when Jewish people were expelled from England

Actor Mark Lee, playing Shylock in the current Sydney Shakespeare Company’s Production asserted that traditionally children were employed to throw fruit at the character and indeed this show doesn’t pull punches. (“Shall we not REVENGE” indeed!) When the moment arrived, a black hood and straight razor reminiscent of some terrorist ritual on a victim strapped to a chair, needed only a camera to be a scene from countless movies on the subject.

On to this production. Considering my high expectations, (THE MERCHANT OF VENICE was my first introduction to Shakespeare in school and like many other dreamers, Shylock the character of choice to play),  and the arduous task of rehearsing around the cast’s working lives,  I was very pleasantly surprised at a very polished and entertaining production.

Special plaudits to Mark Lee for a very finely balanced and tuned Shylock heading an ensemble of talented and creative artists. Noteworthy are Steven Hopley as Lancelot (also happened to direct the production. Don’t you hate inordinately talented people?!), Andrew Thomson as Salerio and the Duke, and Lizzie Schebesta as Portia.

Do yourselves a favour and find your way to this one.

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE is playing at the Tap Gallery, 278 Palmer Street, Darlinghurst until Saturday August 24, 2013.

 

THE SHAPE OF THINGS

The Shape of Things 1(1)-001
Diego AR Melo and Emilia Stubbs Grigoriou star in THE SHAPE OF THINGS

Gifted American film director, screenwriter and playwright Neil LaBute has built up an impressive oeuvre of work since his first play FILTHY TALK FOR TROUBLED TIMES was first produced in 1989. For my money, his 1991 play THE SHAPE OF THINGS, ranks as one of his finest and most provocative works.

I first saw this play back in January 2005 in a great mainstream Sydney Theatre Company (STC) production  helmed by Jeremy Sims with wonderful performances by Leanna Walsmann as Evelyn and Brendan Cowell  as her victim/lover, Adam.

Yes of-course the show is performed on a  much smaller scale, nevertheless the Hot Room Theatre Group’s current revival at the tiny Horizon Theatre in Wiley Park, helmed by Steve Hopley, generated plenty of sparks.

You wouldn’t think that a play starts with an encounter and flirtation between an art gallery security guide and an abrasive, attractive young woman who wants to graffiti one of the gallery’s prized works of art would end up being a portrait of a ruthless, ambitious young artist who doesn’t think twice in using her personal life as raw material for her work without any responsibility for the emotional fallout that arises.

With Evelyn, LaBute has created a chilling, haunting role and Emilia Stubbs Grigoriou, who has primarily worked with Manly’s Rough Hewn Theatre Troupe, is up for it and gives a strong performance. UWS graduate Diego AR Melo holds his own as poor Adam, and Benjamin Buryo as his best friend, Philip and Alison Lee Rubie as his fiance, Jenny lend good support.

If you like your theatre with plenty of bite and really edgy dialogue, then try and make the trek out west before Hot Room’s production finishes on Sunday. The theatre is located on the corner of King George’s Road and Canterbury Road with off street parking.