Tuesday, March 03, 2009

The Merchant of Venice

Northwest Classical Theatre Co.
January 30 - March 8, 2009

Summary:

Any production of play will be filtered through post-Holocaust political lens; the NWCTC aims to present the play as evenly and balanced as possible. Does Shylock go too far in his pursuit of revenge or, based on his treatment, does he have every right to demand his “pound of flesh”?

14 comments:

Dana said...

Wow, I’m surprised no one’s commented on this show. I attended last Sunday's matinee. I’ve never actually seen or read "Merchant." I’m not proud of it but my ignorance did allow me to have several genuine “Oh no he/she di’nt!” moments. Some takeaways –

The actor who played Gratiano = hi-larious! My boyfriend and I loved him.

The actor who played Antonio was good but to be honest, I kept thinking, “Wow, she has such pretty skin.”

I kind of liked that they didn’t cover up Jessica’s back tattoo. It was another thing that set her apart, a “mark” on her. It was a pretty butterfly (I think?) and not a Star of David, but it still worked for me.

Shylock/Michael Mendelson – Electrifying; he fairly dripped venom in his earlier scenes. Then h looked so bereft during his final scene where he’s lost everything - I was terribly sad for him and felt almost guilty bearing witness to his demise. I still don’t know what I’m supposed to feel about Shylock. On the one hand I was like, “C’mon, I know you’re pissed but take the money and get out of there!” On the other hand, I could see why after being subjugated for so long, he was incapable of letting this final insult go. And how the hell did MM look bandy-legged? I know he doesn’t have bandy legs, but I tell you, the guy was bandy-legged.

I’ve heard some say this is the way Shakespeare should be done, and I have to say I agree. Shakespeare feels like work to me much of the time; I don’t easily understand the language. Guess this is where Good Acting comes in and it looks like NWCTC has it in spades. I’ve already placed Richard II on my calendar. (Another Shakespeare play I know nothing about. That’ll be me in the audience whispering, “Oh, hellll no…”)

Anonymous said...

This show was fantastic. Solid performances across the board, but Mendelson brings a new and needed depth to his fascinating Shylock. Even if you're not a Shakespeare buff normally, I suggest you see this show - it's in your face, in a good way. Kudos!

Anonymous said...

This production has some fine acting but some terrible direction and one very bad casting choice. The problem is with Antonio who is played by a woman dressed as a man. It pulled me right out of the show when she was on though she is a decent actor. Also, the blocking is a terrible mess. Even in such an intimate space the actors were canceled out by the director's in-attention to even the basics.

Anonymous said...

Actually Anonymous,

the role of Antonio is played by a woman dressed as a woman, not a man. Just so we're clear.

Anonymous said...

Compared to the other female characters and even to the other female in a male role, her costumes were decidedly un-feminine. The character remains male does it not? The pronouns are still masculine? This is my point. Why didn't the director have the courage to follow through on the choice? It might have been interesting. Instead it was a distraction. This, and the lack of artistic sensibility in the staging are my complaints. Otherwise, I enjoyed the fine acting.

Anonymous said...

I never took Antonio to be a man. I thought the twist was an interesting one - seeing a male/female love instead of a male/male or "brotherly" (depending on how you interperate the script)love.

Anonymous said...

During a Thursday night call back, the director stated that he was originally going to change the pronouns, but there was later scansion problems when other words like "man" came up. So, he just left it.
It appeared to be an almost full-text version other then changing servant Balthazar's name to Stephano early on. It's a rare productin that keeps the pregnant "negress" reference.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful show, with some great choices by the director. The girl who sang the song near the end of the first act had a very pretty soothing voice.

Anonymous said...

not going to be able to see the show but I do like that picture. Micheal Mendelson is great!

Anonymous said...

The duke was sessy!

Jeremy Lillie said...

Sassy!

Anonymous said...

I pity the folks who aren't going to be able to witness this quality production. The rest of the weekend is sold out, even with the added matinee. I saw it tonight and was blown away by Michael Mendelson's performance. He was so intense as Shylock playing all the roller coaster emotions that the character endures. He definitely deserves a Drammy for this !This was my first experience with NWCT at the Shoebox. I loved the intimacy of this in-your-face venue. I will definitely attend more of their productions and encourage others to do so.

Anonymous said...

Why is there no followspot review for this show?

followspot said...

Too many scheduling problems, unfortunately.