Contemporary twist for Shakespeare

The famous casket scene from The Merchant of Venice ' transmuted to a modern-day game show.
The famous casket scene from The Merchant of Venice ' transmuted to a modern-day game show.

D&A College acting and performance students are performing a version of the Merchant of Venice with a post-banking-crisis flavour.

A total of 11 students are taking roles in one of Shakespeare’s best-loved plays which runs at The Space at the Kingsway Campus, Dundee, on Thursday and Friday, December 5 and 6.

With direction by lecturer Jennifer McGregor, the HND acting and performance students are presenting a production which draws entirely on contemporary references. The acting style is designed to make the language accessible to young and old.

The play highlights the contrasts in contemporary city life – the divide between rich and poor, the business districts, the hip clubs and bars and the leafy suburbs and the run down estates and hidden homeless.

The hatred towards Shylock becomes symbolic of today’s anti-immigration debate.

Jennifer said: “While the westerners in the play value wealth and seek fame embracing the cult of celebrity which is so common nowadays, Shylock has faith and dignity and maintains his values and self-respect.”

With Portia being portrayed in a Paris Hilton fashion, a bored ‘celeb’ looking for some form of escape; Basssanio, a gym-obsessed playboy; Gratiano, a dangerous, drug-dealing club owner; and Nerissa, being Portia’s super efficient PA; Jennifer is sure audience members will have little sympathy for Antonio and his comrades but will be left questioning their own prejudices and values.

The contemporary theme is taken as far as audio visual effects including twitter feeds during the trial - #poundoffleshtrial!

Tickets are free and available at the door of The Space, curtain up 7 p.m.