The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1699 Thursday, 6 October 2005
Date: Tuesday, 4 Oct 2005 12:27:34 -0400
Subject: Barbara Gaines' MoV
Excerpt from Terry Teachout's Wall St. Journal review of Barbara Gaines'
new staging of The Merchant of Venice, now playing at Chicago
Ms. Gaines' "Merchant" grapples head-on with the chief problem the play
poses for today's audiences, which is that Shakespeare's portrayal of
Shylock is widely felt to be openly (if not merely) anti-Semitic. It
does so by underlining every reference to Shylock's Jewishness, to the
point where the incessant repetition of the word "Jew" shrieks as
shrilly as fingernails on a chalkboard. Not that the man himself is
spared: Mike Nussbaum plays Shylock as a smug semi-gentleman in a
three-piece suit whose elegant cut cannot conceal his raging bloodlust.
Yet the more savagely he is treated by the other characters-to the point
of being beaten and spat upon in a dark alley-the more intelligible his
hateful longings start to seem....
The rest of the review is available on line-- but only by subscription
to the WSJ, alas
G.L. Horton, playwright
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