Review: The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice is one of the plays I included in the syllabus of one of my courses and we wrap up the lessons on it with a trial/debate: I have one group advocating for Shylock and the other trying to save Antonio. This is one of the activities when students really engage cognitively and emotionally with the moral issues in the play and sometimes the debate gets quite hot as both sides seem to have strong ethical claims to the righteousness of their positions. I wonder what my students would make of Jonathan Munby’s production for The Globe. Can anyone really side with Portia after watching it? It almost seem that the director decided to bring to the stage  Eagleton’ (1986, pp. 35-48) s views of Portia manipulative and disrespectful approach to the Law while Shylock patiently waits for the fate he knows will almost certainly come.

Jonathan Pryce as Shylock is just stunning. There is no way you cannot deeply feel for him and so is his daughter Phoebe Pryce, playing Jessica. You can feel the chemistry between them and her wailing in a song in Hebrew when she finds out what has befallen her father is just impressive for such a young actor.

The ending is just soul-shattering and it is the first time I have seen a play at The Globe closing without a gigue. No spoilers though…

Read The Guardian review

Reference

  • Eagleton, T. 1998. William Shakespeare. Oxford: Blackwell.
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