“The Merchant of Venice,” William Shakespeare’s controversial play about love, loss, revenge and Jews is coming to Brooklyn for a two-week run.
In an all-male production that one English newspaper dubbed “spot-on in every way,” the British company, Propeller, takes the tale from the canals of Renaissance Venice to the cell blocks of a contemporary prison.
“This is indeed the most controversial Shakespeare play, and [director] Ed Hall does not shy away from confronting the realities in the play,” said BAM Executive Producer Joseph Melillo.
Almost since it was first staged, around 1596, the play has garnered controversy over its portrayal of Shylock, a Jewish moneylender. He has variously been described as a vengeful villain, a sympathetic victim, and a proud aristocrat — and depictions of the Shakespeare’s character have largely depended on the atmosphere in which the play was staged.
In Nazi Germany, the play was staged to reaffirm anti-Semitic attitudes, but later renditions, including a 2004 film version starring Al Pacino, have given context to the character’s disturbing overtones.
“The Merchant of Venice,” May 6-17 at BAM Harvey Theater [651 Fulton St. at Rockwell Place in Fort Greene, (718) 636-4100]. Tickets $25-$65.