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Tuesday, May 17, 2005

italian for beginners posterThe Rialto

The Merchant of Venice

  • Al Pacino
  • Jeremy Irons
  • Joseph Fiennes
  • Lynn Collins
  • Alan Corduner
  • Anton Rodgers, et al
  • Wearying of my daily toil of seeking honest employ, didst to the Globe Pavilion, there to observe assorted gentlefolk of the theatrical trade besport themselves in service of the Bard.

    I'd completely forgot that Daughter 2 had furnished my study with a poster from Lone Scherfig's clever flick and hence nor did it click when I roamed fair Venezia last Xmas and actually stood on the Rialto that I'd been staring at this view for many a month.

    Sat agog with text on lap, remembering not just Oxford but both schools and outings in the 1960s to the Old Vic to see the Merchant performed onstage.

    It's appalling to think of the racism and beliefism that existed even then: can you imagine a class today when a teacher would dare to assign Goldstein to the role of Shylock? But that seemed only natural back then, with the prettiest junior assigned to Portia and macho captain of the house rugger team, Dyer-Smith, as Antonio. Swoon.

    imdb cover shot of MerchantJeremy Irons superb as the wearied Antonio - surely, he's cornered the role of gaunt decency?

    Once again, I was fooled in the accent department: Texan Lynn Collins played an impeccably accented (and everything else), perfect Portia, down to her gorgeous Titian tresses.

    (Quick breather to insert link to New York Ties review)

    On the subject of the beauteous Lynn, I was interested to find in the special features that, unlike most cases where the actors blab interestingly, Ms Collins has not one intelligent insight or word to add on the lines she delivers so convincingly on screen.

    What to say of Pacino? Surely the Jew has never been so movingly portrayed, nor Shakespeare's insight into the human condition so subtly highlighted?

    Script-wise, I know it's ridiculous to talk like that about Shakespeare (and director Michael Radford makes sure to acknowledge that with coy apologia) but Radford has done a remarkable job honing the text for more general consumption. Had I not had the play before me, I'd've missed some of the prunings, so skilled was the streamlining.

    Oy veh! The Usurer had his daughter problems and I will too if I don't make sure that a certain honors student isn't whisked to an early showing of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pound of Flesh


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