Watermill - The Merchant of Venice
4th to 6th October 2001.
This was the Newbury Weekly News review.
Crackling with theatrical attack
'THE MERCHANT OF VENICE: A JAPANESE VERSION', at The Watermill, from Thursday, October 4 to Saturday, October 6
Directed by Ion Caramitru, actor, director and former Romanian Minister of Culture, the Watermill was the first stop on a tour which is also taking this production to Rotterdam, Bucharest, Stratford and finally Tokyo.
Performed in Japanese by members of innovative Japanese contemporary theatre companies, the language barrier quickly proved to be no such thing. With Shakespeare's play pared to short, snappy scenes, this vibrant production fizzed with energy and contemporaneity, crackled with theatrical attack.
And this was the Newbury Theatre short take.
Last week I went to see Merchant of Venice at the Watermill. Nothing unusual there, you might think, but this production was in Japanese, so I didn't understand a word of it. It was, nevertheless, quite engrossing, and with a rough idea of what's going on (thanks to the synopsis they supplied) it's surprisingly easy to get the gist of it (the whole experience is probably similar to watching Madam Butterfly sung in Italian).
It does, of course, let you concentrate not on the words but on the delivery, the acting and the overall production, all of which were very impressive. It's not something I would have chosen to see, but my son's doing MoV in A-level drama, so it seemed the right thing to do. I'm glad I did, and he thoroughly enjoyed it too.