Sunday, March 25, 2007

the merchant of venice

I realize this picture of Ave and her son doesn't have much to do with Shakespeare's play, but I'm posting it here because for one thing, Ave looks really cute, and for another, when I recently saw this play at the Guthrie, a young woman sitting behind me had a laugh that reminded me of Ave's.

I don't think I've posted yet this year about the shows we've seen at the Guthrie. We've been going to the Guthrie for years, but I still get so excited about going to performances there my stomach gets all fluttery.

This year the Guthrie moved to new digs in the warehouse district. I love the building from the outside, and there are stunning views of the river from the inside. However, the inside decor leaves much to be desired. The thrust stage itself is beautiful, but the hallway to get there is dark and narrow. It's supposed to be modern and hip, but I just don't care for it. I've been trying to hunt up some photos of it online, but in the photos it looks really cool. In real life it's, well, dark and narrow. The opening play this year was "The Great Gatsby" and it was so-so. It was one of the few plays I've seen there that just didn't work. Next we saw "Lost in Yonkers," and it was wonderful. The young actors who played the two boys had perfect timing. It's hard to go wrong with Neil Simon.

Tuesday night was saw "The Merchant of Venice." It was a stunningly beautiful production. I don't know what it cost them to put in that gorgeous floor of interlocking circles and back drop of gold doors, but it was a pretty penny. The period costumes were also gorgeous. Go here to see a clip of Shylock. This is one of Shakespeare's most controversial plays because of the character Shylock, a caricature of a Jew. This production makes no attempt to temper the prejudice as I've seen others try to do (to eye-rolling effect) by making Shylock a more sympathetic character. Shylock is indeed an uncomfortable presence in the play, especially for a modern audience, but I simply don't see that as something that needs to be fixed. It's Shakespeare, for crying out loud. When you change the character of Shylock, you change the entire play. Shylock is not supposed to be a complete human because he does not learn to extend mercy. Thus, it fits him to be portrayed as a caricature.

I love how the play examines Christian virtue, especially forgiveness. The relationships between the men and women are hilarious. I always adore the casket-choosing scenes, and they were very well-done. And thank you, thank you, Guthrie Theater, for not making Antonio and Bassanio homosexual lovers.

6 comments:

ave said...

I wish I could remember what was so funny, maybe its the demonic look on my son's face. You are so fortunate to have such a theater so close. The Belfast theater group are doing "The Full Monty" next month and I know several actors in it. I am torn about going to it. I saw the movie on TNT (edited) and thought it was hilarious, but I would be uncomfortable if this particular version of the play was extremely vulgar with lots of profanity.

sippinghotchocolate said...

i would like to see the merchant of venice. what's your favourite shakespeare play?

Montserrat said...

I wish we lived near a big city that had great concerts, operas, and plays constantly showing. I would love it!

Auntie Lee said...

We live right across the street from a theater that shows Broadway musicals which have been translated into Dutch. They are done quite well too. The only problem is that the tickets are more than $100- each so we never can afford to go. I really wanted to take the kids to see the Blue Man Group but the cheaper tickets were sold out as soon as they were on sale.
Instead we have regular problems parking our cars when there is something going on there. It seems nice to live so close to a theater but when you can't afford to go its more of a pain.

Calandria said...

hi everyone,

i haven't had internet access until now. athena, i don't think i can name my favorite shakespeare play! that would be so hard. i like taming of the shrew, merchant of venice, and winter's tale very much. the tempest is another favorite.

sippinghotchocolate said...

i really like taming of the shrew too. i was wondering if you might be in mexico. nice to see an update from you!