The Merchant of Venice
Free. Donations appreciated
Island Stage Left brings Shakespeare’s most controversial play to San Juan Island: The Merchant of Venice. The Jewish moneylender Shylock has been spat upon, cursed, beaten, robbed – and his chief persecutor is suddenly in his power. Shylock demands savage enforcement of justice. Or is it revenge? How should viciousness be punished? Must Shylock payback racial hatred with mercy? As the high-stakes plot builds to its famous pound-of-flesh climax, Shakespeare weaves in a romance that brings the wealthy heiress Portia to the aid of Shylock’s enemy.
This is a play for today. The powerful forces driving it could be drawn from the daily news – including the cross-dressing heroine’s brilliant yet merciless legal gambit.
ISL brings the island a new production directed by Helen Machin-Smith, who transposes the play to the Venice of the 1930s, with Nazism on the rise and Europe heading toward World War II.