merchant of venice
Very good performances by all of the cast in this solid performance of a difficult play which is why it is not performed much despite some wonderful language. The knowledgeable Shakespeare fan will understand how well Pacino was able to tread the thin line between making Shylock sympathetic versus rotten. This is not easy, and it is crucial to the play which in my opinion is not anti-semitic at all but rather anti-bigotry in general, and specifically anti-anti-semitism. Shylock is clearly the focal character of this play and I think Shakespeare, or whoever actually wrote it, was searching for a way to make his audiences examine their humanity and to understand what made Shylock, with all of his unattractive features, the way he was. Played too sympathetically makes it too obvious and heavy handed. Played to villainously makes us all squirm, and isnt necessary at all. Finally, what are we to make of all the other characters? I think they are ALL arrogant fools in different ways. Akin to many characters in Vanity Fair. And this too is really difficult to bring out without being obvious or making the whole thing boring, and I think this production succeeded in this. The only criticism I have is that I would have preferred either turn of the century or Elizabethan costumes - not men in one and ladies in the other. I suippose there was a point but it went over my head and was a little bit distracting.
The Merchant of Venice on Wednesday, Feb 2nd, 2011