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Gareth Armstrong
Theatre Tours International
Assembly Roxy

Taking its cue from Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, as you might have guessed from the title, Masterson does not actually portray the famous Jew—well he does occasionally, but the story is told through the character of Tubal, friend to Shylock, rather bitter about only having 8 lines in the whole play.

Somehow, in just an hour and a quarter, the script covers the important elements of Shylock's story in Shakespeare's play as well as 400 years of the play's production and 2,000 years of Jewish persecution.

It's a remarkable achievement, but on top of all of that it's also very funny for much of the time. But when we come to the climax of the Shakespeare tale, I've never seen a more moving and sympathetic portrayal of Shylock's final fate in any production of Merchant.

Masterson has been playing this part since 2011, and that shows in the confidence in his performance and the slickness of the production. He demonstrates various characters, acting styles and comic turns as well as narrating the various stories and histories in a way that keeps the audience's rapt attention throughout.

Managing to be both entertaining and informative and to be totally relevant to a modern audience, this well-researched and energetically performed hour and a quarter is highly recommended.

Reviewer: David Chadderton