The Jewish actor Tracy Ann Oberman is to “reclaim” William Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice in a modernised production of the controversial play starring her as a female Shylock.
The screen and stage star agreed to take on the leading role in the adaptation depicting the ruthless moneylender who demands a pound of flesh as collateral for a loan as a matriarch living in the Jewish East End during the 1930s.
The production led by the director Brigid Larmour will capture a community threatened by Oswald Mosley’s fascist movement in a story inspired by Oberman’s own family history.
Speaking to the website What’s On Stage, Oberman said this week: “I’ve always wanted to reclaim The Merchant in some way and wanted to see how it would change with a single mother female Shylock.
“My own great grandma and great aunts were single mothers, widows, left in the East End to run the businesses and the homes which they did with an iron fist.”
The production will open at the Watford Palace Theatre in October and transfer to the Rose Theatre Kingston the following month.