Dame Judi Dench has reflected on a rather unfortunate slip of the tongue that caused “a lot of unrest” during a performance of ‘The Merchant Of Venice’.
The multi-award-winning thespian is renowned for her Shakespearean roles, but maintains that ‘The Merchant Of Venice’ is not among her faves, as “everyone in it behaves very badly”.
This is apparently the case for the actors within the play, too, as she revealed during an interview with Graham Norton.
She explained: “Against my will I did once play Portia [in ‘The Merchant Of Venice’] the first year I was married. Mike [her late husband, Michael Williams] played Bassanio and I had a speech to him and I made a terrible, terrible mistake.
“Instead of saying, ‘I speak too long; but ‘tis to peize the time, to eke it and to draw it out in length, to stay you from election’, I said ‘erection’.”
Still, when you drop a clanger like that, you expect your fellow performers to just brush it off, right?
“The wind band that was about to play put down their instruments and walked off the stage in shock,” she revealed. “It caused a lot of unrest!”
Dame Judi as appearing on ‘The Graham Norton Show’ alongside fellow actor Sir Kenneth Branagh, with whom she stars in the new film ‘All Is True’, in which she plays Anne Hathaway to his William Shakespeare.
Watch the pair’s full interview on ‘The Graham Norton Show’ on Friday night at 10.35pm on BBC One.