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One of his most intriguing plays...
on 7 January 2009
The joy of Shakespeare from an actor's point of view is the myriad ways you can perform them. And Merchant of Venice is one of Shakespeare's best plays for that reason - each of the characters is so open to interpretation that this play (even more than is usual for Shakespeare) could be put together in almost infinite ways. Add to that the scene which gave birth to all today's courtroom dramas, and one Shakespeare's most famous and interesting characters in Shylock, and this is a play which I recommend highly for potential actors/directors and audience members.
Normally Arden editions are my edition of choice by a long way, and that is still true here. But the introduction is rather dated in this edition - it was written around 50 years ago - and this means that some issues in the play (notably the potentially homosexual relationship between Antonio and Bassanio) are totally skimmed over, where in a recently written edition I am sure this would be explored in full. Having said that, though, the notes are informative to the right level and the text is authoritative.
The dated intro means I've dropped it a star... If Arden bring out a new edition it'll get a fifth...