The Merchant of Venice
Because of the nature of this play, we felt it was imperative to set it in the historical era in which it was written. We would come to the same conclusion several years later with Othello. For us, presenting these plays, we felt we needed to show the racial hatred within the cultural context out of which it sprung.
Ultimately, we felt the production was extremely successful. Robert Currier's goal was to show all of the characters as complex and multi-faceted. Shylock is a good businessman, a terrible father, a loving husband, a greedy soul.
The Christian characters are equally morally ambiguous. And there are so many questions the play presents. Does the Jewish daughter Jessica regret betraying and stealing from her father? How is she treated by the Christian community she joins? How do the Christian marriages fare after the two husbands break their wives' trust by giving away their wedding rings? How does Shylock respond to the judgment of the trial that demands he become a Christian?
The production tried - and succeeded - in asking these questions, not in answering them. With five Equity actors, the largest we had ever included in our company, the cast was well up to the challenge.
– Lesley Currier