The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice at Shakespeare in the Park

The Merchant of Venice at Shakespeare in the Park

The inclusion of “The Merchant of Venice” amongst Shakespeare’s comedies has often puzzled scholars. The overriding themes of revenge, hatred and punishment leave little room for the bawdiness and levity that marks the bard’s better known comedic works like “Twelfth Night,” “As You Like It,” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” But those puzzled scholars need only look to director Daniel Sullivan’s take on “Merchant” to find the humor absent from nearly all other productions.

The Merchant of Venice at BAM

The Merchant of Venice at BAM

I’m not sure that a depressing play about money lending is the most appropriate choice for the times, and though the adept and talented Propeller company did not manage to make The Merchant Venice the comedy it is forever miscategorized as, they did do many things right. Merchant is one of my least favorite of Shakespeare’s plays, which is maybe why I’m always so keen to see it performed. This time it’s set not in Venice but in a prison with a sort of come-and-go-as-you-please attitude.