The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2224  Monday, 24 November 2003

From:           Christopher Moore <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 21 Nov 2003 10:31:02 -0500
Subject:        MERCHANT NYC Times Review

Review of Merchant of Venice in today's New York Times:

November 21, 2003
In Shylock vs. Antonio, a Ray of Hope for a Pitiable Soul

In the Pearl Theater Company's "Merchant of Venice," Shylock certainly
makes the most of his day in court, and all the days before, and that
makes this production a sometimes troubling experience. Shepard Sobel,
the company's founder and the director here, accomplishes this
transformation by focusing our attention more intently than usual on the
confrontations between Shylock and Antonio, the merchant of the title.

Dominic Cuskern's Shylock is angry, bristly, too offended for too long
to hide his resentment. This Shylock affects a slight Middle European
accent, and he knows how to make the other characters, and the audience,
feel the snap of his wit. (No other character can stand up to him in
this respect.) He makes no big speeches. Those few that we expect to be
appeals to the audience are spoken directly to other characters,
naturally, and you can feel Shylock struggling to hold onto his temper.
His defeat at the end of the play is pitiable.

As for Antonio, Dan Daily turns him into an easily recognizable
commercial tycoon, a bit standoffish, bragging about his diversified
investments in shipping, easily commanding his younger colleagues,
silencing them with declarations that his status gives him higher
obligations. When Shylock first accuses Antonio of spitting on him, you
can almost see this Antonio craning over the lip of his skybox to get a
better aim.

There is a dramatic spark between these two characters that puts
everyone else in the background, and that makes the final court scene
viscerally upsetting but, in an odd way, hopeful. There is a feeling
that Shylock will somehow escape the legal manacles placed on him by the
duke and the law, and then all these people will learn what an
irresistibly smart opponent he can be.

 . . .

S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.

Subscribe to Our Feeds


Make a Gift to SHAKSPER

Consider making a gift to support SHAKSPER.