Page 1

New from Nick Hern Books The Glasshouse, 49a Goldhawk Road London W12 8QP tel: +44 (0)20 8749 4953 fax: +44 (0)20 8735 0250 email: or order online at

Published 5 August 2004 Price £12.99 Order quoting ‘e-flyer offer’, and pay just £10.75, inc UK post and packing (£2.50 to EU countries, £4.00 to rest of world) ISBN 1 85459 785 X (hardback)

“A gem to add to that small but rich library, charting the rigours and devotions of an actor’s life” Guardian

Shylock - the Book Having established a moderately successful, but necessarily intermittent, acting career, including uniquely playing three separate characters in The Archers, Gareth Armstrong felt in need of a reliable sideline to cover the gaps. A one-man show seemed the answer and Shylock a good subject. But no one was more surprised than he by the way first the research and then the character took over his life. He has now travelled the world over with his show, from San Francisco to Sri Lanka, from Romania to New Zealand, his myriad encounters enriching both him and the show, adding ever more threads to his one-man story of the Jew and the Jewish people. Frequently hilarious, often provocative, this account of a Gentile's exploration of the most famous of fictional Jews is fascinating, revealing and always entertaining.

with a Foreword by Judi Dench “...delightfully funny and moving.�

“A winning combination of autobiography, travel writing, theatrical gossip and Shakespearean analysis” Independent In New York I once met a financier who, in the polite way of Americans, even financiers, asked me what I was doing. I explained I was playing the part of Shylock. He looked blank, but when I started to explain, his glazed expression suddenly changed. “Shylocking!” he said. “Sure. We have a rival who's always trying to shylock us.” To him it was a verb, and he was genuinely ignorant of its source...

* * * * ...”A wilderness of monkeys” is one of the most evocative and extraordinary images in the whole of Shakespeare. It conjures up something so chaotic and yet so desolate, so teeming and yet so empty, that it defies the visual imagination. My play has been translated into Catalan, Spanish, Italian, Russian and French but none of those languages has come up with a satisfactory rendition of that line. The translators have used “forest of monkeys”, “jungle of monkeys” even “trees full of monkeys”, but the resonances that the line has in English simply elude them. Gareth Armstrong in A Case for Shylock

“The reactions to his show are fantastically diverse and occasionally frightening, but this is theatre...� Judi Dench, from her Foreword to the book "It was still warm enough on the first night to have a champagne reception in the garden of the British Embassy residence, which like most things in Vienna had an old-fashioned formality. But among the other rather sober guests I was introduced to a very glamorous Austrian ex-film actress of a certain age. She'd spent time in Hollywood and was witty and gossipy, especially about some of the other people at the party. She was very complimentary too about the show. " But I'm so glad you didn't go on and on about the holocaust my darling...We're really fed up to the back teeth with that by now". Minutes later I found myself chatting to a much older lady, who turned out to be a survivor of the holocaust they were all allegedly so fed up with. "You got one thing very wrong you know" she said in excellent English. "When you mentioned the yellow star of David you placed your hand on your upper arm. Quite wrong. That's where the Nazis wore their swastikas. We always wore the star over our hearts ..." - she took the champagne glass from me and placed my right hand across my chest - "" I made sure at the next and every subsequent performance to rectify the error." Gareth Armstrong in A Case for Shylock

“What could so easily have been an ego trip round the world is turned into a rich, warm and moving portrait of humanity...” Judi Dench, from her Foreword to the book “As well as performing in Kiev to crowds of over eight hundred people we travelled on a slow overnight train to the industrial town of Donetsk in the south east of the country, not far from the Russian border. The train is patrolled by uniformed female officials with a zeal reminiscent of a previous era, and they take no account of a westerner's expectation of privacy, throwing open compartment doors unannounced to prepare you for a station stop or to thrust a hot glass of morning tea into the hand which isn't clutching a snatched pillow over private parts.”

* * * *

“Then, in the steamy south-western port of Cochin, in Kerala, I found a place called Jew Town. It's a narrow street lined with cluttered little shops, no longer run by Jews but by traders from Kashmir, with whom they share a reputation for shrewd business practices. On the left hand-side at the end of the street is an archway that leads into the precincts of the synagogue. The temple itself, surrounded by ancient gravestones, is a cool, almost austere building. Apart from the floor, covered with blue and white Dutch tiles, and the centrally placed pulpit, it reminded me of the simple chapels of my Presbyterian childhood. Before we left I struck up a conversation with the lady in charge of the monument. She was, she told me, from one the last six remaining Jewish families in the State of Kerala.” Gareth Armstrong in A Case for Shylock

A Case for Shylock  

Having established a moderately successful, but inevitably intermittent, acting career, including - uniquely - playing three separate charac...

A Case for Shylock  

Having established a moderately successful, but inevitably intermittent, acting career, including - uniquely - playing three separate charac...