THE JEW OF MALTA: ELIZABETHAN PLAY SET ON THESE ISLANDS

This October, the MADC and Teatru Manoel are producing Christopher Marlowe’s classic 1590s play The Jew of Malta. The Elizabethan play continues to raise waves because of its motifs and extremely intense villain portraits. In many ways The Jew of Malta was ahead of its time, and today reads more like a Quentin Tarantino script than something written over 400 years ago; and the vibrant and fast-moving story features bloody violence and slapstick comedy in equal measure.

Photo credit: Justin Mamo

The focus is on the title character Barabas. A prosperous Jew, Barabas does all that he can to maintain his position of influence after the Governor of Malta uses the wealth of the country’s Jewish population to pay off the Turkish Sultan in order to stave off war. He will allow nobody, including his daughter Abigail, to get in his way.

Tragically murdered aged 29, Christopher Marlowe was an English playwright, and poet of the Elizabethan era. Although his life was cut short at such a young age, Marlowe’s works are known for their rich storytelling and flawed, complex protagonists. The play was written when Jewish people were banned from living in Britain, and were seen not as neighbours but rather as metaphors of mercantile culture. Christopher Marlowe’s piece reflects the social and political realities of the age it was written, with timeless themes of betrayal, conscience, and loyalty. The play is often read as criticism of all Abrahamic religions.

Photo credit: Justin Mamo

Director Chris Gatt, fresh from directing the acclaimed five-star production Vessel at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, describes it as a “dark, hilarious and subversive tragi-comedy. The Jew of Malta takes no prisoners as Marlowe cynically dissects a world where politics, greed and the three Mediterranean religions – Catholic, Muslim, and Jewish – clash; skewering all three as he weaves a fast-paced story at once tragic, farcical, and absurd.”

The production boasts a strong cast including Mikhail Basmadjian, Naomi Knight, Antony Edridge, Erica Muscat, Edward Thorpe, Philip Leone-Ganado, Nathan Brimmer, Alex Weenink, Joe Depasquale, Maxine Brimmer, Helen Osborne, Joseph Zammit and Daniela Carabott Pawley.

The Jew of Malta will be performed at Teatru Manoel on 5, 6, 7 and 12, 13, 14 October 2018. All performances start at 8pm; except for the October 6 performance, which starts at 6pm. Tickets at €25, €20 and €10; discounted ticket available for students and senior citizens. Bookings on 2124 6389 or www.teatrumanoel.com.