Women shine in The Merchant of Venice

PUBLISHED: 15:09 05 March 2008 | UPDATED: 17:16 16 August 2010

IT is hard to imagine one of Shakespeare s most staged and intense plays squeezed into a tiny space, writes Marina Soteriou.

IT is hard to imagine one of Shakespeare's most staged and intense plays squeezed into a tiny space, writes Marina Soteriou. However The Merchant of Venice at the Greenwich Playhouse manages to nuance the meaning out of every word of this momentous play.

We enter the familiar world of merchants trading, money lenders lending and maidens discussing suitors.

From the very beginning the Galleon Theatre Company's production switches seamlessly from laughs, romance and high drama in this play of greed, intolerance and old fashioned love.

Both the drama and humour of the original text shines through with the talented cast of young actors.

But it is the women who steal the show.

Stephanie Thomas' Portia is an authoritative and powerful yet compassionate presence.

In contrast Holly Hilton manages to play the humble Jessica with a quiet brooding quality. Even in the infamous courtroom scene, Eve-Marie Aker's judge dominates the room, with the help of some killer-heels.

At times, the evening tends to centre on the romance of the play and the romantic scenes are lent a melodramatic with the help of some sweeping music.

However the play's endurance lies in the themes it explores and the final act of intolerance being bestowed on Shylock echoes the religious intolerance of the current age.

The play continues until Sunday, March 9.

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