Exploring themes of prejudice, mercy, compassion, revenge, and humanity and inhumanity, this production of The Merchant of Venice sets the story in the present moment. Bassanio, a Venetian lord whose pockets are currently empty, needs a loan to travel to the island of Belmont and pursue Portia, a rich heiress. His dear friend Antonio, a wealthy nobleman of Venice, agrees to give him a loan and, in turn, borrows the money from a Jewish moneylender, Shylock. Shylock, who has resented Antonio for many years, locks him into a legal bond that will threaten his life if not fulfilled. The duality of Venice's Carnivale — its lush, irreverent playfulness alongside its hidden underbelly of subversiveness — sets the stage for this drama to unfold, asking how much we have truly evolved in our empathy for those we think of as the "other."