Drama On 3: The Wolf In The Water

Sunday 22 May



What happened to Jessica, Shylock’s daughter in The Merchant Of Venice? In the original Shakespeare, Jessica is a minor but fascinating character – Shylock's only daughter, who leaves him to convert to Christianity and marry Lorenzo. We are left rather uncertain about how that marriage is going to work out. It's also implicit that the conversion isn't going to be easy on either party.

The Wolf In The Water by Naomi Alderman is an imaginative response to The Merchant Of Venice, in which we meet an older Jessica in 1615, secretly still practising her Jewish faith in a turbulent Venice that is increasingly hostile to Jews. There’s a murder and 20 innocent Jews are facing death – Jessica becomes embroiled in a mystery that challenges her apparently settled life and reconnects her with her identity.

The year may be 1615, but the themes are universal and relevant. What drives one group to persecute another? What shameful deeds are done by those to whom we entrust our money? Can we ever be cosmopolitans – citizens of all nations and none, or will our ethnicity, our religion, even the ineradicable traces of God, always draw us back, perhaps to doom ourselves?

This is part of the BBC's Shakespeare Festival and also marks the 500th anniversary of the establishment of the Venice ghetto. The Wolf In The Water cast includes actors from the regular cast of Zombies, Run! – the global phenomenon that Naomi created and now has over one million players.

Jessica….Pippa Bennett-Warner
Lorenzo….Scott Arthur
Anna….Jennifer Tan
Augusta….Tracy-Ann Oberman
Tubal….Vincent Ebrahim
Thief 1….Philip Nightingale
Thief 2….Philip Jennings

Producer/Polly Thomas for Somethin' Else

BBC Radio 3 Publicity