Friday, March 16, 2007

Who would play Shylock?

Kenneth Gross, whose Shylock Is Shakespeare has earned high acclaim, has considered who might have best portrayed -- and directed -- Shylock in a film version of The Merchant of Venice.

Over at My Book, The Movie, he shares his thinking on the subject.
The actors I’ve seen playing Shylock -- variously stoic, angry, seductive, sorrowful, playful, self-righteous, wearied, fearful -- wanted to keep audiences in view of a human Shylock. They showed us a Shylock who even in his rage or blind love of money is vulnerable, and who in turn makes us vulnerable.... One aim was to avoid either over-sentimentalizing Shylock as pathetic victim or producing something bluntly antisemitic. It’s understandable, but there was something guarded about all of the performances. None attempted a Shylock either as scary or as wild as the play suggests is possible -- especially in the trial scene, where Shylock embraces his own reduction, makes a dangerous mask of his own monstrosity in the eyes of the Christians, and uses this to stun them, question them, to turn their prejudiced visions back against them.
So who could best play this demanding role? Read on to learn about Gross's preferred actor and director.

--Marshal Zeringue