February 27, 2002 |
For all that Shylock has to say in The Merchant of Venice, there is a silent moment in the show at People's Light & Theatre Company that fixes, more than his words, the fresh, convincing approach this production takes toward the problematic main character. Director James J. Christy achieves it by introducing Tubal, Shylock's Jewish merchant friend whose presence is not indicated in the script, into the trial scene. Tubal sits and quietly watches as Shylock rejects all pleas for mercy and reason, and continues to demand his pound of flesh from Antonio.
June 2, 1998 |
There's a moment in Act IV, near the dramatic peak of The Merchant of Venice, when Shylock starts sharpening the blade of his knife on his shoe. Even on the unlevel playing field of a Venetian courtroom, he thinks he's won, and he's preparing to exact his more-than-proverbial pound of flesh. During Friday's opening-night performance by the Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival at the Adrienne, some audience members responded to this gesture with giggles. Perhaps these were nervous, tension-relieving titters.
February 2, 2001 |
He's only in five scenes, but the figure of Shylock - the shifty usurer of The Merchant of Venice who demands a pound of flesh for payment of a loan - has had an impact on theater, and history, that resonates to this day. "Shakespeare touched something which burns a hole in the rest of the play," notes one of the talking heads in Shylock, a fascinating study of the role and its significance: as an archetype, a stereotype, and a symbol, good and bad,...
December 20, 1989 |
Dustin Hoffman has brought his Shylock to Broadway, completing one of the nerviest parlays in theater history. Without any Shakespearean experience, the American film actor braved London opinion in the role last season and got respectful attention. Now it's New York's turn. If Hoffman is less than electrifying as Shakespeare's vengeful Jew, he isn't boring either. His is a small Shylock but a credible one. The Merchant of Venice that opened a limited run last night at the 46th Street Theater is a replay, with some cast changes, of the West End production that Sir Peter Hall staged for his new producing company.
December 20, 1989 |
The winds of change blow strong on W. 46th Street. The 46th Street Theatre is housing its final production. In 12 weeks, immediately after the current tenant is out, it will officially become the Richard Rodgers Theatre. This final production features a prominent actor - an American Jew at that - who recently invaded the home turf of William Shakespeare and risked his professional neck to play his first Shakespearean role in that alien territory, and who has returned unbowed to Broadway to repeat his Shylock in "The Merchant of Venice," now transplanted nearly intact to the colonies for the farewell turn of the 46th Street Theatre.
March 1, 1992 |
I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal'd by the same means, warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? - The Merchant of Venice. Before last week, Lugenia Edgefield had never heard of Shakespeare, much less The Merchant of Venice. Then she read Shylock's powerful speech about prejudice and revenge and felt a kinship with the misunderstood moneylender.
February 27, 1998 |
The actor comes on stage in full costume and makeup - robes, beard, side curls and a large hooked nose set in a dark-skinned, sinister-looking face. Speaking a compilation of famous lines from The Merchant of Venice, the actor menacingly draws a knife and says: "The pound of flesh which I demand of him/Is dearly bought, is mine, and I will have it. . . . " The words are spoken determinedly, malevolently, chillingly. This is an unabashedly villainous Shylock, one who embodies the Elizabethan Englishman's conception of the Jew as contemptible and evil.
May 27, 1989 |
There is no getting around the fact that The Merchant of Venice is rife with anti-Semitism. For this reason, although it is one of William Shakespeare's most colorful and playable plays, it is not often performed, and the director who chooses to stage it must decide how he is going to approach the ethnically objectionable aspects of the piece. The anti-Semitism of Merchant is embodied in Shylock, whom Shakespeare portrays as a rapacious, vindictive Jew preying on the good, honest Christian burghers of 16th-century Venice.
March 31, 1994 |
The publicity for the admirable production of The Merchant of Venice at Temple University's Tomlinson Theater has director Jan Silverman saying that Shylock "has to be played as a bad guy. " Indeed, in her version of Shakespeare's play, the character of the Jewish moneylender is not softened. The Shylock portrayed by William Zielinski in this production, staffed with graduate and undergraduate theater students, is bitter, angry, vengeful and merciless. He is difficult to like, even as we are aware that Shakespeare has deliberately overwritten his villainy and appreciate that his vengeful behavior is a quite understandable reaction to the virulent anti-Semitism displayed by the Christian residents of Venice.
February 24, 1998 |
It was either an extraordinary coup - or an embarrassment in the making. When Mark Leiren-Young's play, Shylock, premiered in his home town of Vancouver, British Columbia, in the summer of 1996, Patrick Stewart was in the audience. Stewart is best known for his starring role in the television show Star Trek: The Next Generation. But he also happens to be Great Britain's reigning interpreter of Shylock. "He'd written an essay on the character of Shylock and how it had changed his life," Leiren-Young related during a recent visit to Philadelphia.