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British Theatre Guide

In this “as told by” description of what has happened on and behind the scenes of Merchant of Venice, Gratiano is in a valuable observation post. And playwright/performer, Ross Ericson, gives us the lesser character, Gratiano, with a wealth of common sense.

Gratiano has been arrested for murder the previous night but he was too much in his cups to remember. This forces him into his second-hand impression of what has happened during the financial, legal and romantic relationships; Gratiano gives us a hindsight, pragmatic view.

We know that Shylock wants his pound of flesh; after all, that was what was agreed to in the contract. But here, the earthy Gratiano muses over Portia, who donned men’s clothes, having never taken a law course, demanding after a trial full of questionable logic, “what mercy did she show Shylock?” when he is forced to give up his religion.

Mr Ericson views Grationo as a Roman citizen during and just after WW II, which is a unique place for Mr Ericson to review the lives of Antonio, Bassanio, Portia, Jessica and Shylock.

Playwright/performer Ross Ericson gives us so much more. In a surprising and startlingly intelligent script, handily performed, Mr Ericson admits in epilogue that Gratiano is still in development. This has all the potential of being a smart vehicle for Mr Ericson.

Reviewer: Catherine Lamm
Reviewed: 21st August 2016


There’s a fascinating idea behind Gratiano.

Take one of the minor players from The Merchant of Venice, (the comedy sidekick who no-one quite remembers), transport him forward in time to 1940s Italy during the rise of Mussolini, and have him re-examine his role in the events of one of Shakespeare’s most enduring plays. A monologue, written and performed by Ross Ericson, this opening night show is somewhat marred by the fact that only a few people have actually turned out to see it – but it’s early days at the Fringe and there’s plenty of time for this to find the right audience. The play is beautifully scripted and gamely performed – and it offers views about fascism and racism that seem powerfully prescient given what’s happening in the world right now.

Ericson’s tale imagines the consequences of the original play’s events: something terrible has happened to Gratiano’s old friend, Bassanio. He’s been found murdered and the police are wondering if his former best friend might have been involved. Gratiano, of course, is quick to dispel such notions. After all, he and Bassanio parted ways years ago. So where’s the motive?

Spoken in contemporary language, this is compelling stuff and some passages – particularly the observations about the concentration camps spill over from prose into sheer poetry. Those who are looking to find a new approach to a time-honoured classic could do a lot worse than investigate this.

Reviewer: Philip Caveney
Reviewed: 4th August 2016


Gratiano is not a character I remember from Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’ (he’s Bassiano’s friend, who marries Portia’s servant Nerissa).

Grist to the Mill’s work-in-progress show explores what it’s like to be a “sidekick” rather than the “hero” of one’s own life.

What makes this show refreshingly different from the innumerable adaptations of Shakespeare plays, told from a minor character’s perspective, is its political engagement.

Ross Ericson sets the events and their aftermath in 1940s Fascist Italy, tracing how hateful, anti-Semitic rhetoric can lead to genocide.

Ericson delivers a compelling performance in this one-man show as the brusque, heavy-drinking Gratiano.

Although the set-up of the show as a police interview doesn’t quite work, there is enormous potential.

Reviewer: Hannah Greenstreet
Reviewed: 23rd August 2016

Grist to the Mill Productions


Gratiano @spotlites @edfringe

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Previews: Thurs 4th - Fri 5th
Sat 6th - Sun 28th August 2016
(not Mon 22nd)

6:35pm (50 mins)

From England

The 20th century has reached middle age and so has Gratiano and, looking back at his life, he questions why he was not written a better part.
Taking a new look at ‘The Merchant of Venice’ through the eyes of one of its minor characters we explore the politics and prejudices that still haunt the modern world, and consider how rarely we are the authors of our own lives.
This is our contribution to Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary.

From the team that brought you the critically acclaimed ‘The Unknown Soldier’

***** (
****(The Scotsman)
****(The Stage).

Performer's website




Previews: Thurs 4th - Fri 5th £7.50
Mon - Fri : £9.50 (Concessions £8.50)
Sat - Sun £11 (Concessions £9)
Group discount: 10% off for groups of 10+
2for1 on Mon 8th & Tues 9th

Friends of Fringe: 2 for 1 anytime – only available from Fringe Box Office

book tickets for edinburgh fringe festival


Venue 278. 22-26 George Street. EH2 2EP
Venue Box Office: 0131 240 2784

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