Guy Masterson’s Shylock at the Maltings Arts Theatre

Guy Masterson as Shylock

Guy Masterson as Shylock - Credit: Archant

THE masterful Guy Masterson aims to shed fresh light on Shakespeare’s Shylock when he appears at the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans this Sunday, February 10.

Shylock has always divided opinion. As one of only two Jewish men in the whole of Shakespeare, he has been portrayed in ways which reflect how Jews were popularly viewed – from comic villain in Shakespeare’s day to a victim of racial discrimination nowadays.

Guy Masterson, a leading exponent of solo shows, honours one of Shakespeare’s finest creations from one of his greatest plays in his performance at 7.30pm.

It is the second of three performances Guy is staging at The Maltings Arts Theatre this year. Following the success of the critically-acclaimed Animal Farm in January, and in addition to Shylock, Guy will also be bringing The Half, another of his highly-regarded solo shows, to the venue in April.

He said: “I’ve been fascinated by the character Shylock since I first saw The Merchant of Venice in 1985. It was the first Shakespeare play I’d ever stayed awake through and that was mainly because one of my best friends had a small role in it!

“I was thrilled every time he came on, even though he spoke only about three times throughout the play but I remember being surprised that Shylock appeared only in one third of it.

“Like most people who hadn’t read it, I’d assumed he was the Merchant of the title and that the play was going to be about him. But the play was very much centred on him even though his was not the starring role. I felt very much as if Shylock had been rather harshly treated. And this thought nagged at me.”

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Tickets are £10 with concessions £7.50, available from, by phone on 0844 8700 887, at the theatre box office on Level 2 of the Maltings Shopping Centre or from the St Albans Tourist Information Centre in the Town Hall.

n Two acclaimed Harold Pinter plays, Landscape and A Kind of Alaska, are being reprised by St Albans theatre group OVO at the Maltings Arts Theatre tonight (Thursday) and tomorrow evening.

Both plays bring the audience face to face with the difficulties of human communication.

Landscape tells the story of a married couple who appear to be talking to each other without either of them being heard. A Kind Of Alaska explores a different breakdown in communication as a middle-aged woman, Deborah, awakens from a 30-year coma induced by sleeping sickness to confront a very changed world.

The double bill, the first production of 2013 for OVO at its home venue, starts at 7.30pm and tickets are £10 with concessions £7.50.

n POP! Ballet – an interactive introduction to ballet for children – is the subject of two performances by the Holly Noble Dance company at 1pm and 3pm this Saturday, February 9.