The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1052 Tuesday, 22 June 1999.
Date: Monday, 21 Jun 1999 21:14:15 -0400
Subject: Through, Thorough, Writing Reviews and the DC Merchant
John W. Mahon asks about my use of the terms "through and balanced" in
my discussion of the DC production of Merchant.
Let me back-pedal and say, that, while I Shakespeare has always been one
of my two favorite poets (Springsteen being the other one), my
involvement in the productions I have seen in these last few years has
become more intense and hopefully more thoughtful. This results from
taking the time to rethink what I've seen while writing a review. Even
more rewarding are the responses and additional comments I get. This
form of "interactive reviewing," is somewhat unique to lists like this
one. I suppose I could write these reviews and keep them to myself, but
the gestation by an international body of scholars is nice. Of course,
knowing that so many eyes will look at my review implies a
responsibility to try and assure some level of quality, but of course
the beauty and the tragedy of the internet is that any goof with a modem
can suddenly publish to the world.
All of which is to say, I meant "thorough" not "through;" and I advise
cautious use of the "replace all" key in spell check. And I was quite
surprised when my wife asked about my use of the term last week.
But I stand by my use of the term "balanced." John Mahon cites the
missing comic aspect, and I agree, the comedy is quite subdued. Perhaps
the comic/tragic balance has been tilted. But looking at the
characters, we had a villain, who was still a villain, but we still
understood and Christians, who were indeed racists, but we still cared
about. Some of the Christians were indeed viscous racists. Bassanio
and Portia clearly racists as well. And as difficult as it is to make
Shyock ever so slightly sympathetic, I suspect it is even more difficult
to have us happy for Bassanio and Portia, while still showing us their
racism. Never the less, this production does succeed in that task, and
many others like it, hence my term "balanced." (but then I could be just
another goof with a modem).
raw and unspellchecked - Jimmy Jung
When Jimmy Jung writes of the "through and balanced production," and
repeats "through" in his next line (so he doesn't mean "thorough,"
apparently, and has chosen to use the preposition "through" as an
adjective), I frankly don't understand his use of "through," but I think
he is mistaken in seeing the production as "balanced," "not neglecting
any of its themes . . . ." A production in which Shylock is the wronged
victim, justifiably motivated by righteous anger, and all the Christians
are vicious racists can hardly be termed "balanced."