Photo gallery

  • The Merchant of Venice (1981) - Photo gallery 1

    Act 1 Scene 2

    Portia By my troth, Nerissa, my little body is aweary of this great world.

    Portia (Sinead Cusack) explains to Nerissa (Corinna Seddon) that she's fed up with her situation. They discuss her father's will which orders that her suitors must pick one of three caskets in order to win her hand in marriage. If they choose correctly, they find a portrait of Portia and permission to marry her; if they fail, they must swear not to marry anyone else.

    This exchange takes place in Belmont - notice the flowing costumes, long hair and filigree bench which create a sense of Belmont as a feminine, delicate place.

    Photo: Joe Cocks Studio Collection © Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

  • The Merchant of Venice (1981) - Photo gallery 2

    Act 2 Scene 2

    Launcelot Gobbo Turn up on your right hand at the next turning, but, at the next turning of all, on your left

    Shylock's servant Launcelot (Rob Edwards) plays a trick on his father, who is blind. Old Gobbo (Jimmy Gardner) has asked him directions to Shylock's house so Launcelot tries to confuse him. Notice the gangly body language here and unusual props which suggest they are comic characters.

    Photo: Joe Cocks Studio Collection © Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

  • The Merchant of Venice (1981) - Photo gallery 3

    Act 2 Scene 2

    Bassanio Go, father, with thy son. / Take leave of thy old master and inquire my lodging out.

    Launcelot Gobbo eventually decides he wants to leave Shylock's service, and asks Bassanio to hire him, and his father.

    Left to right:
    Old Gobbo - Jimmy Gardner
    Bassanio - Jonathan Hyde
    Launcelot Gobbo - Rob Edwards

    Photo: Joe Cocks Studio Collection © Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

  • The Merchant of Venice (1981) - Photo gallery 4

    Act 2 Scene 5

    Shylock Hear you me, Jessica: / Lock up my doors...
    Let not the sound of shallow foppery enter my sober house.

    Shylock has been summoned out for dinner. After a worrying dream the night before, he warns his daughter Jessica not to look out at the partying in the streets. Notice that Shylock is wearing orthodox Jewish dress, and in the background on the desk are his scales for money-lending, which foreshadow the scales which appear in the trial scene.

    Left to right:
    Jessica - Judy Buxton
    Shylock - David Suchet
    Launcelot Gobbo - Rob Edwards

    Photo: Joe Cocks Studio Collection © Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

  • The Merchant of Venice (1981) - Photo gallery 5

    Act 2 Scene 7

    Prince of Morocco 'Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire.'
    Why, that's the lady; all the world desires her ...
    Never so rich a gem / Was set in worse than gold.

    The Prince of Morocco, another suitor keen to marry Portia, chooses the golden casket. Notice the exaggerated costuming of all the characters which adds a comic tone to the scene.

    Left to right:
    Prince of Morocco - Terry Wood
    Portia - Sinead Cusack
    Maid - Judy Buxton
    Nerissa - Corinna Seddon

    Photo: Joe Cocks Studio Collection © Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

  • The Merchant of Venice (1981) - Photo gallery 6

    Act 4 Scene 1

    Bassanio Wrest once the law to your authority:
    To do a great right, do a little wrong, / And curb this cruel devil of his will.

    Bassanio offers to pay Shylock twice the money Antonio owes him, and begs Portia (disguised as Balthasar) to bend the law so that Antonio can be released from the bond. Notice the prominence of the props in this moment in the production - Shylock with this knife, gloves and towel, Bassanio with a money-bag and 'Balthasar' with scales.

    Left to right:
    Shylock - David Suchet
    Bassanio - Jonathan Hyde
    Portia - Sinead Cusack

    Photo: Joe Cocks Studio Collection © Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

  • The Merchant of Venice (1981) - Photo gallery 7

    Act 4 Scene 1

    Portia This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood; / The words expressly are 'a pound of flesh'

    Just as Shylock is about to cut into Antonio to take his 'pound of flesh', Portia points out that the bond is forfeit if he takes a single drop of blood. Notice how exposing Antonio's chest emphasises his vulnerability at this moment.

    Left to right:
    Bassanio - Jonathan Hyde
    Antonio - Tom Wilkinson
    Shylock - David Suchet
    Portia - Sinead Cusack

    Photo: Joe Cocks Studio Collection © Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

  • The Merchant of Venice (1981) - Photo gallery 8

    Act 4 Scene 1

    Shylock Nay, take my life and all; pardon not that:
    You take my house when you do take the prop / That doth sustain my house; you take my life
    When you do take the means whereby I live.

    After saving Antonio's life by pointing out the error in the bond, Portia (Sinead Cusack) continues to explain that Shylock has committed a criminal offence in threatening the life of a Venetian. For this crime, half of the offender's wealth goes to the state, and half to the person threatened. Shylock (David Suchet) says that, without his wealth, they might as well kill him.

    Notice the change in Shylock body-language throughout this scene (see previous photos) as he is gradually stripped of his power.

    Photo: Joe Cocks Studio Collection © Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

  • The Merchant of Venice (1981) - Photo gallery 9

    Act 5 Scene 1

    Bassanio Were you the doctor and I knew you not?
    Gratiano Were you the clerk that is to make me cuckold?

    Portia and Nerissa pretend that they obtained their husbands' rings because they 'lay with' Balthasar and his clerk - but Portia soon reveals that she and Nerissa were these men in disguise. Notice this strong contrast of the relaxed white suits and ruffled dresses with the dark formal suits of the trial scene (see previous photos).

    Left to right:
    Bassanio - Jonathan Hyde
    Portia - Sinead Cusack
    Lorenzo - Michael Siberry
    Jessica - Judy Buxton
    Gratiano - Arthur Kohn
    Nerissa - Corinna Seddon
    Antonio - Tom Wilkinson

    Photo: Joe Cocks Studio Collection © Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

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