A witty one-man play about Shakespeare’s famous Jewish character from The Merchant of Venice




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Admission: $15-$35

Discounts for students and Lensic members.

Event Description

Is The Merchant of Venice’s Shylock a villain or a victim? Shylock, a witty one-man play written and directed by Gareth Armstrong and starring Guy Masterson, explores the ways Shakespeare’s famous Jewish character has been portrayed over the years. It’s a poignant, funny look at theater history and society’s perception of Jews through the ages.

Shylock is one of only two Jewish men in the whole of Shakespeare. His has always been a controversial character, but to understand him, you need to place him in the context of his situation. In Shylock, the character is explained to us through his only friend, Tubal—a lesser-known character in The Merchant of Venice, here played by Masterson—using a series of clever impersonations, including Pontius Pilate, Edmund Kean, Dracula, and Adolf Hitler. Tubal/Masterson leads us through the whole of Shylock's conundrum in The Merchant of Venice, playing all the characters along the way. The performance leaves viewers with a deeper understanding of the issues that Jews have faced and, without preaching or teaching, spotlights the plight of any victimized minority.

For his role in Shylock, Masterson was nominated as 2011’s Best Solo Performer by the U.K.’s leading performing arts publication, The Stage.

Praise for Shylock
“A sumptuous theatrical, historical, and intellectual feast served up in a bravura performance.”—Robert Trussell, The Kansas City Star

“Shylock delivers a serious message but with a light touch, and Tubal's good humor and ready smile draw the audience in. They warm to him and feel for Shylock, his friend.”
Peter Lathan, British Theatre Guide

“We're so accustomed to gimmicky rehashes of Shakespeare, it's a pleasure to discover an intelligent new take on his work; how curious it is to consider the inception of a character like Shylock, to ponder his place in society and why Shakespeare put him there…Vibrant, poignant, exceptionally well-written and beautifully executed.”
Rebecca Paul, The Skinny (Scotland)