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The Merchant of Venice
Cover of The Merchant of Venice
The Merchant of Venice
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Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, agrees to lend Antonio, a Venetian merchant, three thousand ducats so that his friend Bassanio can afford to court his love, Portia. However, Shylock has one condition:...
Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, agrees to lend Antonio, a Venetian merchant, three thousand ducats so that his friend Bassanio can afford to court his love, Portia. However, Shylock has one condition:...
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  • Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, agrees to lend Antonio, a Venetian merchant, three thousand ducats so that his friend Bassanio can afford to court his love, Portia. However, Shylock has one condition: should the loan go unpaid, he will be entitled to a pound of Antonio’s own flesh. Meanwhile in Belmont, according to the terms of her father’s will, Portia’s many suitors must choose correctly from three caskets. Bassanio arrives at Portia’s estate and they declare their love for one another before he picks the correct casket. Antonio falls into bad fortune and finds he cannot repay Shylock: a dramatic trial ensues to decide his fate.

Reviews-

  • AudioFile Magazine Shakespeare's sometimes-disturbing play tells the story of Shylock, a Jewish moneylender who, insisting on a "pound of flesh" to settle a debt, is instructed in "the quality of mercy." The work receives a solid but unremarkable performance here. Anthony Sher plays Shylock as choking with rage, yet gives him his tragic due. Roger Allam is a robust Antonio, and Emma Fielding makes Portia a worthy heroine. Background sounds in outdoor scenes are mildly distracting and seem out of place; when are they used onstage? Players in smaller roles are sometimes unconvincing, especially in their reactions, the bane of audio drama. Mildly humorous speeches, for example, elicit painfully false laughter. This production breaks no new ground, but the play's power does, for the most part, come through. W.M. (c) AudioFile 2009, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 19, 2008
    Fans of the play will find this an intriguing adaptation. Hinds sets his version in modern dress and dramatically edits the text to the basics while keeping the Shakespearean flavor of the dialogue (increasingly as the book goes on). The coloring in shades of slate blue and pale gray gives it an antique patina that's counterbalanced by the way Hinds leaves construction lines visible. That makes it feel like reading someone's unpolished sketchbook, as though the characters were observed, not created. It's always a benefit to see Shakespeare acted out, to make the universal situations clear to the modern viewer, and that benefit extends to the graphic medium, especially when the characters have a sense of motion, as here. Some aspects of the original are still discomforting; Hinds is faithful to the play in its treatment of the bloodthirsty, money-hungry Shylock, and some readers may be put off by the inclusion of lines such as \x93you may be pleased to collect whatever usurious interest pleases your Jew heart.\x94 An author's note encourages further research on that matter and clarifies some of Hinds's creative decisions.

  • AudioFile Magazine Transforming any play into sound alone is a challenge, and one that is met by this Arkangel production of THE MERCHANT OF VENICE, part of its series of dramatized recordings of Shakespeare's works. Like many of Shakespeare's comedies, MERCHANT is at its core a love story, but it is far more than that. The play is a controversial examination of justice, mercy, and prejudice. All the actors give strong performances, although it's somewhat difficult at times to distinguish between the voices of Bassanio and Antonio, played by Julian Rhind-Tutt and Bill Nighy. Trevor Peacock's portrayal of Shylock stands out among those of a solid cast. Peacock uses a sly voice for Shylock, saving his best for the comedy's climactic courtroom scene. D.J.S. (c) AudioFile 2005, Portland, Maine

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