A friend of Flatwater Shakespeare shared her impressions of the last performance of The Merchant of Venice --
play was beautifully done. The 1890s era was an interesting choice
for the setting – the costumes were very fun and the period still
felt in harmony with Shakespeare’s language.
are some of my favorite things in the production.
relationships between all the characters, especially:
and Shylock – they were really the perfect foils for each other;
and Bassanio – they really messed with the line between platonic
and romantic love, and in my mind that was how it should be, since
the text certainly gives that impression;
and Jessica – even though Jessica is a relatively minor character,
you can see that her part in the story is still important, and that
her betrayal later actually hurt Shylock and was not just an excuse
for his revenge; the moment when she hugged him before he left for
dinner at Antonio's house was played very well.
also really liked:
scene with Launcelot Gobbo and his father – the comedic timing was
impeccable, and Bassanio's patience wearing thin was really
jumping full-on into Bassanio's arms after Bassanio chose the right
casket; no profound significance here (except a hint of how important
the choice was for Gratiano, too) – it was just really funny.
“hath not a Jew eyes' speech” – this was the first time I had
ever heard it spoken both with hurt/anger and with bone-deep grief;
very powerful -- I cried.
romances – which were sweet but not overdone.
trial scene – Antonio being at Shylock's mercy and yet still
retaining his feeling of arrogant moral superiority was perfectly
done; Portia was a wonderful doctor of the law, not retreating an
inch, despite how close Shylock was to her in his anger; the tragic
irony of Antonio being saved by Portia and then, despite seeing
Shylock in the very position he himself had just occupied, deciding
to ignore Portia's “quality of mercy” speech and to strip Shylock
of the one thing he had not yet lost – his Jewish identity. I cried
here too, especially when Shylock was forced to beg for his life on
his hands and knees.
ending scene, with Portia and Nerissa getting the better of their new
husbands and forcing them to treat them as equal partners, not as
things to be won, owned, or idolized. And Bassanio crawling across
the stage to Portia, trying to make up the loss of the ring, was
actors’ reactions to other people's lines: I love that about live
theatre – you get to see all the people in a scene rather than just
the participants in a dialogue; it makes the story more personal,
it was excellently performed. I would have probably embarrassed
myself in front of the actors by gushing about it to them, especially
the man who played Shylock, Patrick Lambrecht. However, I had to
leave before getting a chance to see them.
Congratulations to Tom Crew and his creative team for an exceptional The Merchant of Venice! Many thanks to all who attended -- including the friend who wrote this lovely appreciation immediately after a show -- and to all supported
the production. Special thanks go to our partners in providing
opportunities to discuss the play, its themes, and its implications for
our own times: Ms. Nancy Coren, Professor Sarah Kelen, Professor Carole
Levin, Rabbi Craig Lewis, and Professor Scott Stanfield.
Photo: Patrick Lambrecht as Shylock in Flatwater Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, directed by Tom Crew. Photo Credit: Jourdan Guenther.