Yes, don't forget that this is all a dark comedy. Just as audiences were supposed to laugh at the hapless Jew and his deserved comeuppance, so too they were to tremble with a good man about to become his bloody victim.

However, this production wisely and skillfully emphasizes Shylock's justifications for his enmity. Especially if we can accept his having made the pound of flesh payment jokingly, we can appreciate his fury over an ultimate affront to his religion and therefore to himself: his daughter Jessica (Caroline Kaplan) is seduced away by a Christian, Lorenzo (Will Austin), to be converted and married. She, his own "flesh and blood," has been stolen from him — what recompense could be more appropriate?

Even if Berenson hadn't performed magnificently, moving us when the defeated Shylock must remove his prayer shawl, we would be rightly impressed with this production, which beautifully balances lightness and shadows.

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Related: Commonwealth Shakespeare Company takes on Coriolanus, Winter theatre preview: From the Bard to Becky Shaw, Review: Trinity Rep’s Crucible is potent, More more >
  Topics: Theater , Stephen Thorne, Joe Wilson, Stephen Berenson,  More more >
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