The Merchant of Venice is one of Shakespeare's most popular comedies, but it remains deeply controversial. The text may seem anti-Semitic; yet repeatedly, in performance, it has revealed a contrasting nature. Shylock, though vanquished in the law-court, often triumphs in the theatre. In his intensity he can dominate the play, challenging abrasively its romantic and lyrical affirmations. What results is a bitter-sweet drama.Though The Merchant of Venice offers some of the traditional pleasures of romantic comedy, it also exposes the operations of prejudice. Thus Shakespeare remains our contemporary
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by William Shakespeare
by William Shakespeare, SmartPass Ltd.
"Two worlds contrast in this problematic Shakespearean opus--sordid, mercantile Venice, where the usurer Shylock exacts a pound of flesh for collateral, and the magic island of the virtuous, clever Portia, whose father has set a fairy tale challenge for her suitors. The play is nearly impossible to perform in its original character--not only because of its manifest anti-Semitism, but because, with the exception of Portia, the good guys are no more pleasant than the villain. Nonetheless, the so-called comedy enjoys frequent revivals. In this CBC production, part of its Stratford Festival series, the producers have opted to give it no character whatsoever. While the production is meticulous, the acting is bland. The performers do little to clearly interpret the Elizabethan diction for listeners--again with the exception of Portia (Lucy Peacock), and her companion, Nerissa (Sarah Dodd). Y.R. (c) AudioFile 2003, Portland, Maine"
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