An actress who has starred in Doctor Who and Eastenders will visit a Bucks theatre this autumn to tour a new gender-switched Shakespeare production.

Tracy-Ann Oberman, who has starred in Doctor Who, Eastenders and Friday Night Dinner will bring her latest stage production, a gender-switched adaptation of a Shakespeare play to the Wycombe Swan Theatre in High Wycombe next month.

In the new production, helmed by director Brigid Larmour, Oberman plays a female Shylock, a Jewish moneylender who is the anti-hero of the play and also, in this adaptation, a single mother committed to her daughter and her independence.

Growing up, Oberman had mixed feelings towards The Merchant of Venice, with its controversial depiction of Shylock both “fascinating and repulsing” her.

She initially had no desire to portray the moneylender as a “victim”, but underestimated the impact a female Shylock would have on audiences, especially in certain scenes of the play.

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“There are a couple of very shocking moments. In an early scene, Antonio comes to borrow money and Shylock describes him spitting on her and kicking her like a dog – when that behaviour is directed at a woman, it heightens the antisemitism.

“What has been very moving is how many people want to stay and talk at the end. A lot of people talk about their own family’s immigrant experience. There were big conversations: Is the play antisemitic? Was Shakespeare? Lots of really interesting conversations.”

An educational campaign has been launched alongside the play including support for schoolteachers who Oberman said had previously expressed to her their anxiety about teaching the contentious play to young students.

“I can honestly say that when I went into this, it was never with an ego about playing Shylock, it was about wanting to tell the story.

“Every single bit of it has been a complete joy. It’s been more than a piece of theatre – for me, it’s been a mission. And it lived up to all my expectations.”

The Merchant of Venice will play at the Wycombe Swan from October 10 to October 14.