WEST END TRANSFER: The Merchant of Venice 1936 starring Tracy-Ann Oberman

Following its critically acclaimed UK tour, The Merchant of Venice 1936 transfers to London’s West End for a limited season at the Criterion Theatre, from 15 February – 23 March. Tracy-

Ann Oberman (EastEnders, Doctor Who, Friday Night Dinner), continues her groundbreaking portrayal of Shylock, being the first British actress to play the role. Ambition, power and political unrest explode onto the stage in this “striking and impactful” (The Guardian) production that “makes theatre history” (Daily Telegraph). This “fascinating and timely” (Daily Mail) reimagining sees Shakespeare’s classic transported to 1930s East London against the backdrop of the ‘Battle of Cable Street’. It is directed and adapted by acclaimed director Brigid Larmour from an idea by co-creator Tracy-Ann Oberman.

Tracy-Ann Oberman said: “It has been a lifelong cherished dream of mine to bring this play to the stage in a new way, reimagining Shylock as one of the tough, no nonsense Jewish matriarchs I grew up around. The love we have experienced from theatre audiences around the country for the way that this story is told has propelled us into the West End. I’m delighted that my dream has touched hearts and minds along the way. This transfer to the Criterion – which could not be more timely – will continue to spread the message that we are stronger together.”
Joining Tracy-Ann and reprising their roles are Raymond Coulthard (Emmerdale, Hotel Babylon) in the roles of Antonio and Arragon, Hannah Morrish (Antony and Cleopatra, Father Brown) as Portia, Gavin Fowler (Henry V, King Lear) as Bassanio, Jessica Dennis (The Habit of Art) as Mary and Nerissa, Grainne Dromgoole (Romeo and Juliet) as Jessica, Xavier Starr (The Mechanicals Presents… Macbeth or Julius Caesar) as Gratiano, Alex Zur (Hamlet, A Level Playing Field) as Yuval/The Duke/Balthasar/Blackshirt (member of the British Union of Fascists), and Nancy Farino (Masters of the Air) as Stefania/Blackshirt (member of the British Union of Fascists) .

With the city on the brink of political unrest, fascism sweeping across Europe and Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists threatening a paramilitary march through the Jewish East End, strong-willed single mother Shylock runs a pawnbroking business from her house in Cable Street where Mosley will march. When charismatic, antisemitic aristocrat Antonio comes to her for a loan, a high-stakes deal is struck. Will Shylock take her revenge, and who will pay the ultimate price?

The Merchant of Venice 1936 creative team includes: Liz Cooke (costume and set design), Rory Beaton (lighting design) and Sarah Weltman (sound design). Erran Baron Cohen (composer), Annabel Arden (associate /movement director), Greta Zabulyte (video).

Prior to the West End run, The Merchant of Venice 1936 will be playing at the Swan Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon from 24 January – 10 February, following its previous five-month UK tour.