ECHOES OF DARKNESS
Jews collect, laughing and chattering, providing a toast as they run down the aisles to settle downstage for a Passover meal with candles, prayers and the traditional query “why is this night different from all other nights?”.
This time it’s, for a foul motive. A noise exterior: and over their heads in huge projected newsreels come Mosley and the British Union of Fascists on the battle of Cable Street, with daring black libellous posters about “negroid Jewish filth” and the octopus of Jewish finance.
A pilgrimage, this was, and never by chance. Because it performs this week in a resonant place : simply off Cable Street , the place Mosley’s marchers met a resistant crowd, not solely of the Jews they focused however of dockers, unionists and East Enders with a banner “They Shall Not Pass” . Honest individuals shared the disgust and brotherhood, seeing off the thugs. On that autumn day Wilton’s music corridor, was a gathering place and first-aid put up for the anti-fascists.
So to see this exceptional manufacturing right here, setting Shakespeare’s play in 1936 , is heartshaking . When Brigid Larmour”s present, with Tracy Ann Oberman provocatively forged as Shylock, started its lengthy tour no person might foresee that by now the London streets would once more see antisemitic hatred on the march. Nor would there be such harmful electrical energy within the play’s troublesome story of a requirement for human flesh to undergo. For we see not solely a scornful cadre of contemptuous toffs – Gratiano an actual posh Bullingdon thug, rich Antonio coming to court docket in jackboots and pink armband – however of a Jew exacting revenge via bloodshed. Because the damage is so deep. And we additionally see a Jewish neighbour operating in worry from a thug, and partitions daubed with day by day hatred.
Oberman is sensible, turning Shakespeare’s grotesque right into a well dressed businesswoman, a mom appalled by her daughter’s defection, then a deeply damage and lonely determine standing on her dignity and rights in court docket whereas her case is destroyed by the crossdressed Portia – who’s critically nasty by the top, cruel regardless of the well-known speech. It forces you, as all the time, to suppose not solely concerning the historical curse of antisemitism however about legislation, its glory and its limitations.
Its a taut, and nicely minimize, two hours. And within the remaining moments the defeated and ruined Shylock, clutching her possessions, stands alone towards the rom-com finale stuff with Bassanio’s ring,. Bleak – till all of the sudden every part turns spherical. The hostile males throw off armbands, Antonio dons the kippah, and all unfurl a sheet with They Shall Not Pass .
And many of the viewers right here in previous Wilton’s all of the sudden get up, in fellowship. And Oberman briefly tells us, as herself, that her grandmother was there at Cable Street, and that it nonetheless befits us all to face collectively.
Touring until Feb. York subsequent, Manchester, Chichester, Stratford upon Avon