The bard’s darkest comedy reimagined

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One of Shakespeare’s darkest comedies is to come to life in a new pocket-sized form at the Alnwick Playhouse next week, and the cast are all men.

Propeller’s Pocket Merchant, a condensed version of the Bard’s The Merchant of Venice, is to return to the venue after its tour last spring.

Pocket Propeller, the company behind the show, creates an ideal introduction to Shakespeare and to the thrill and excitement of theatre.

In addition to this, there’s not a single woman in the cast, to reflect the traditional portrayal from Shakespearian times.

The all-male company play out the show in a compact but not compromised 60-minute show with the opportunity to question the actors about the play, Shakespeare, acting or anything that comes to mind after the show.

Tei Williams, from Pocket Propeller, said: “It is interesting how, within a few minutes, people do not even notice they are men playing women.

“We do not make any concessions to hairy chests and deep voices.”

The show is set in a prison called Venice. Being placed in such an intense setting, it allows the actors to explore the extreme themes that Shakespeare examines in this controversial and powerful play.

The original is a tale of greed and revenge.

When Bassanio falls in love with the wealthy Portia, he becomes imprisoned in a bargain with a ruthless moneylender. A pound of flesh is sought, and time is fast running out to untangle the trap of his own making.

Despite its dark themes, the show is suitable for anyone aged 11 and over. An educational pack can also be downloaded from Alnwick Playhouse website, which provides information for teachers, parents and children alike.

The production will be staged at the theatre for one night only, Wednesday, September 23. Tickets start at £10. Visit