Merchant of Venice

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I read two Shakespeare plays in school- Merchant of Venice and As you like it and remember some of the passages quite well because we performed them as soliloquy during competitions. The rest of the plays were read as stories. When I saw that a theatre group was putting up ‘Merchant of Venice’, I wondered if I should go watch it. What if they make a royal mess of it? But a friend remarked “It is Shakespeare. How bad can it get?” So, last night I watched the play in Delhi and even though the production values were not very high and the actors were mediocre, it was great fun. As a kid, MOV was black and white for all of us. Antonio, Bassanio and Portia were the good guys and Shylock was the villain. Last night, my sympathies were towards Shylock. Thankfully, this strong character was played brilliantly. Antonio just comes across a racist while Bassanio is a carefree idiot. Portia is the only sensible adult but then she marries Bassanio so I don’t know what happens to her. I would like to know whether they live happily ever after. She seems too sensible for a guy like Bassanio.

When Shylock delivers “If you prick us, do we not bleed”, I wanted to give him a standing ovation. Ditto for Portia’s “Mercy” speech.

Aah… I wish we spoke like that, in Shakespeare language. Every emotion would get heightened by a 1000 times. We would laugh, cry more and love so much more.

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