CLASSIC: Bell Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice on stage.
CLASSIC: Bell Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice on stage. Prudence Upton

Portia and Shylock visit the Northern Rivers

MONEY makes the world go around.

Portia has it.

Bassanio wants it.

Shylock lends it.

Antonio owes the value of it.

But love also plays a part.

Portia offers it.

Bassanio wants it.

And Antonio may lose a pound of flesh for it.

NORPA will welcome this month world-acclaimed company Bell Shakespeare back to the stage of Lismore City Hall with their new production, The Merchant of Venice, for two evening performances.

The Merchant of Venice is a 16th century play by William Shakespeare in which a merchant in Venice must default on a large loan provided by an abused Jewish moneylender.

It is believed to have been written between 1596 and 1599.

Though classified as a comedy in the First Folio, and sharing certain aspects with Shakespeare's other romantic comedies, the play is perhaps most remembered for its dramatic scenes, and it is best known for Shylock and the famous "Hath not a Jew eyes?" speech.

Also notable is Portia's speech about "the quality of mercy".


THEATRE: Bell Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice features Jessica Tovery as Portia.
THEATRE: Bell Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice features Jessica Tovey as Portia. Pierre Toussaint

American critic Critic Harold Bloom listed it among Shakespeare's great comedies.

Artistic director Peter Evans is happy to bring this production to regional centres.

"This uncompromising production explores the tense relationship and prejudices between those that have, and those that don't. The themes of justice and revenge continue to play strongly 400 years after this play was written," he said at the tour's announcement.

The productions features three-time Helpmann Award winner Mitchell Butel (Janet King and Rake) as the defiant Shylock, and Jessica Tovey (Wolf Creek and Wonderland) as Portia, and is directed by Anne-Louise Sarks (Belvoir's Jasper Jones and Medea).

This production tackles the prejudices and preconceived notions of one of Shakespeare's most challenging plays.

Mr Evans said director Anne-Louise Sarks has developed a reputation for being unflinching in tackling difficult subjects.

"This is only the second time since becoming Artistic Director for Bell Shakespeare that we've invited a new director to join us in creating new work," he said.