From April ’11 Spotlight:
Going into Broadway in Chicago’s new production of The Merchant of Venice on Opening Night (March 15), I knew my Shakespeare backwards and forwards, but I still left the theatre in tears.
According to the playbill, director Darko Tresnjak intends his version to be set in “the near future,” so he surrounds his cast with high tech gadgets like cell phones and computers. What? We’d left the Renaissance behind us and landed on Wall Street, and I was totally convinced!
Unfortunately this production has moved on to Boston and LA, but if you have friends in either city, you should urge them to go. F. Murray Abraham is simply splendid as “Shylock,” and I hope someone records his performance for posterity.
Meanwhile there are several DVD versions already available. I am emphatically not a fan of “the Al Pacino version” (directed by Michael Radford in 2004), so if you want to watch Merchant on DVD, I recommend Trevor Nunn’s 2001 production starring Henry Goodman.