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  • 22 October 2019

Form 6 production: The Merchant of ‘London’

Cranleigh Prep School’s first drama production of the year brought the first half of term to a rousing finale. The evening opened…

Cranleigh Prep School’s first drama production of the year brought the first half of term to a rousing finale. The evening opened with a nod to Shakespeare in a preview from the upcoming Cranleigh School performance of King Charles III. Tobias Escolme, former CPS pupil, and Zac Partridge impressed in this extract from Mike Bartlett’s future history play directed by Dominique Chapman. 

The main act was this year’s introduction to Shakespeare for Form 6, with a sprinkling of eighties and nineties music thrown in for good measure. The production showcased the strengths of the Creative Arts department, with music and dance complementing the dramatisation of The Merchant of London, mostly by William Shakespeare.

Richard E set the musical mood as he serenaded the actors onto stage with a cool cafe inspired melody. Against the backdrop of a SoHo cafe bar, the stage soon sprang into life as narrators Lucy H-B and Ella C burst into a fabulous rendition of the Huey Lewis classic A Power of Love. 


But all is not well in this drama and a classic tale of love, money and revenge soon unfolds. Love forms the backbone of the play and it seems everyone has a dream , as beautifully voiced by Maisy B and Alice P. We watch Portia, Phoebe G and her maid Nerissa, Sasha D, entertain a stream of unlikely suitors: George B, resplendent and strutting the stage in silver to Abba’s Take a Chance on Me ; a Trumpesque Prince in Theo S and our hero Bassanio, Charlie M,  whose true love for Portia very nearly comes at a cost – the life of his dear friend Antonio, Finlay R.


For, in order for Bassanio to court Portia, a deal has been struck and it is here that money comes into play. Bassanio cannot ask for Portia’s hand in marriage as he has no wealth to give her. His faithful friend Antonio, Finlay R, comes to his rescue. He will act as guarantor for his friend if the Jew, Shylock the ruthless money lender, played by the sinister Madeleine R, will offer them a loan. It seems Shylock is delighted by the prospect of holding his enemy Antonio to ransom and his bond is set; on forfeit of the loan, Shylock demands a ‘pound of flesh’. The deal is struck and Bassanio sets off to romance fair Portia.


The final element of the play, revenge,  is then set in motion and with Jessica (Issy P) eloping with Lorenzo (William M), and Launcelot Gobbo (Teddy M)  deserting his master to the wonderful strains of Queen’s I Want to Break Free, performed by Izzy P and Brandon G, Shylock delights in the news that Antonio’s fleet has been lost at sea and it is time to claim his bond. 


And so to the climactic court scene. Bassanio leaves his new wife Portia to support the doomed Antonio…but Bassanio and Gratiano (Belle W) are unaware that their wives, Portia and Nerissa, have other plans up their sleeves. Gina E presides over the court with some authority and it is soon clear that Shylock is not intent on revenge. The arrival of visiting lawyers to help resolve the stalemate is welcome and we realise it is Portia and Nerissa in disguise; it soon seems that Shylock will get his pound of flesh. However,  as Antonio bows to his knees, Portia, declares that the forfeit only demands flesh and no blood should be spilled. To cheers, Shylock is sent packing, with his fortune stripped from him along with his faith. As with many Shakespeare’s comedies, the resolution is a joyous one and our lovers and the audience are serenaded by Ted S with Love is in the Air. 

And so ends a wonderful modern adaptation of Shakespeare, with the wandering minstrels replaced by our rock star heros, our own band of Richard E, Brandon G, Bertie H, Daisy S and Chris Maxwell who accompanied the singers. A huge thank you to: Phil Waller, Ben Dixon and Kimberley Vowles for leading the Creative Arts teams; to Sarah Awwad, Sam Green, Lita Everett, Hamish Ellis and Lisa Waller for their roles in supporting production, costumes, lighting and props. 


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