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The Merchant of Venice

The Barn Theatre, Southwick Community Centre

March 8, 9, 10, 11 2023

The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare

Directed by Sam Razavi

YouTube trailer link

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“Brave, bold and contentious: A story for, and of, our times”
– Mike Aiken –


Antonio – a merchant of Venice : Guy Steddon

Shylock – a Jewish moneylender : Dan Dryer

Bassanio – a friend of Antonio and suitor to Portia : Sam Razavi

Salarino – various entities : Diane Robinson

Salanio – various entities : Rosy Armitage

Portia – a Belmont heiress and influencer : Nicola Russell

Nerissa – reality TV host and friend of Portia : Susanne Crosby

Gratiano – friend of Antonio, partial to a pint or twelve : John Garland

Lorenzo – in love with Jessica : David Aitchison

Jessica – daughter of Shylock : Lauren Brakes

Morocco – suitor to Portia : Abbi Crawford

Arragon – suitor to Portia : Luke Mepham

Launcelot – servant to Shylock : Emily Dennett

Gobbo – Gobbo – father to Launcelot : Peter Joyce

Duke – Duke of Venice : Peter Joyce

Servant – Messenger – Clerk : Ethan Dryer

Production Crew

DesignerSam Razavi

ProducerSusanne Crosby

Stage ManagerPeter Joyce

Deputy Stage Manager – Peter Dilloway [member of Southwick Players]

Lighting DesignMartin Oakley

Lighting DesignSusanne Crosby

Lighting Operation Martin Oakley

Lighting OperationTorrin Gieler

Sound DesignSam Razavi

Sound DesignBob Ryder

Sound OperationJeff Woodford

Costume Design and WardrobeLindsay Midali

Costume Design and WardrobeMaggi Pierce

Costume Design and WardrobeSusanne Crosby

PropertiesDi Tidzer

PropertiesDoffey Reid

PropertiesLindsay Midali

PropertiesSusanne Crosby

Set Design, Construction and PaintingSue Chaplin

Set Design, Construction and PaintingDave Comber

Set Design, Construction and PaintingNigel Goldfinch

Set Design, Construction and PaintingMike King

Set Design, Construction and PaintingSue Netley

Set Design, Construction and PaintingGary Walker

Programme Cover, Flyer and Poster Artwork Judith Berrill

Publicity and ProgrammeSuse Crosby

Films – TrailerSam Razavi

Programme Note #1: The Merchant of Venice

SR writes: “This is my first time directing for the Wick Theatre Company, and how the stars align to have the pleasure of putting on this play, in this day and age ,,,, before it is too late! In a world where one cannot dare breathe for offending one person or another, I have no doubt in my mind that there will come a day when the absurdity of modern-day society will eventually succumb to being outraged, offended and feeling vulnerable for words and plotlines written by a poet some half a century ago, the denouement seeing some of the greatest literary works of all time retired eternally to the naughty corner to gather dust and be forgotten.

In just the last hundred years we have made some huge advancements in technology. We can speak to friends some thousands of miles away and see them at the same time – who would have thought that! We have travelled to the moon. Built robots. Yet from the very beginning of time, while the intellect and abilities of the human race seem to flourish and multiply beyond the imagination, we cannot find it within ourselves to eradicate the complete and utter absurd stupidity that is prejudice, from our day to day lives. What is it that keeps us feeding and watering this ugly and unwelcome monster that has walked hand-in-hand with the human race for centuries?

“The Merchant of Venice” is a superb vessel in highlighting the pitfalls of making unreasoned and unproven judgement of people, of giving power to those not fit to handle it; of hating each other simply because of differences such as religious or political beliefs. At best, it leads to nonsensical conflict – at worst, when the most undesirable of people are given permission to wield high the filthy arm of prejudice, it can lead to a scarring of history in the most horrific ways.

This is the classic story of the Jewish banker Shylock pitted against the Christian merchant Antonia; but more than that. It is a story that allows us to shine a light on issues that were, are, and will continue to be, fundamentally wrong in society.

I have to thank all the cast and crew for working so tirelessly on bringing this story to life and exercising patience and understanding in realising my vision of the play, to all the production team who have done wonders, to Miles Davies for his wonderful photography, and in particular to producer Suse Crosby without whose tireless assistance, advice and input throughout the process, the Merchant would not have docked his ship in Southwick!”

Programme Note #2: The Merchant of Venice

‘Comedy, or not a comedy?’ that is the question

Shakespeare’s comedies are tied up neatly at the end: lovers married off, siblings reunited, everyone happy. Therefore, for this play to be classified as a comedy in current thinking is a bit of a problem, as one character is all but destroyed at the end. In Shakespeare’s day it was probably seen as ‘just deserts’, and horrifyingly it took until the 18th Century for people to even start seeing character as sympathetic
Leading to the age-old question. Is this pay about anti-Semitism or is it an anti-Semitic play? That Shakespeare is able to write so beautifully from this character’s viewpoint is empathy at least. The trouble is anti-Semitism is woven throughout the writing of the whole play – through the ways the characters refer to any Jewish people, including continuous sentiment that people only become better if the convert to Christianity. It is a play that shows prejudice in plain sight. It is easy to see that this was one of the most performed plays in Nazi Germany, with more than 50 productions between 1933 and 1939.

There are obviously some ridiculous comedic moments in other parts of the play. But, unless it’s funny to laugh at someone having absolutely everything taken away from them: not just money and home but their personality, values and core beliefs – whatever they might have done to prompt this, comedy is surely the last thing it can be.