After sell out performances of Willy Russell’s Breezeblock Park in November, Liverpool’s award-winning PurpleCoat return to Chester this Christmas with one of Shakespeare’s most controversial plays.

The Merchant of Venice tells the story of a Jewish money lender and his determination to exact revenge upon the Christians who have oppressed him with the taking of a pound of flesh. In this immersive new production by PurpleCoat, Venice has become Blackpool and the racial drama unfolds against the background of 2016 politics.

‘It has been an unbelievable political drama in 2016,’ says the shows director, Karl Falconer, ‘with Brexit in the UK and the election of Trump in the States, we’re living in a time of extremes, and this play reminds us that Shakespeare isn’t 400 years old. It’s happening now, and The Merchant of Venice reflects that.’

Using innovative staging technologies and bringing the same eye for detail which has seen PurpleCoat sell out every single one of its shows this year, both at home in Liverpool, in Chester, in Ireland and in Manchester as part of the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival, The Merchant of Venice brings to a close a great year for the company, whose work is funded by ArtsCouncil England and supported by figures including Dame Judi Dench and Stephen Fry.

‘We want to make theatre that reflects the lives of our audience,’ adds Karl. ‘This production holds the mirror up to nature and hopefully helps us find some clarity in these tumultuous political times. It’s important.’

The production plays in Chester at St Mary’s Creative Space on Thur 22nd and Fri 23rd December. Tickets are available now from