in the Jewish Ghetto of Venice, 1563, this play reworks not
Shakespeare's 'The Merchant of Venice' but the three stories
from which Shakespeare wove his play. The core plot remains,
the relationships are different.
SHYLOCK, a successful loan-banker with
a passion for collecting old books, is a friend of the world-weary
Venetian merchant, ANTONIO, whose long-forgotten godson,
BASSANIO, a fortune hunter, seeks him out to borrow
3000 ducats for the wooing of PORTIA, an educated woman
of the Renaissance, and an heiress.
ANTONIO must borrow the ducats from
his friend, who unhesitatingly agrees but is offended when
ANTONIO asks for a contract. His Venetian friend reminds
him: the laws of Venice permit no dealings with Jews without
contract. SHYLOCK angrily proposes an absurd contract
for a pound of ANTONIO'S flesh to mock the laws of
Venice. ANTONIO'S ships are wrecked. The pound of flesh must
be forfeited. PORTIA argues that the contract is nonsense.
She saves SHYLOCK'S life but not his fortune. ANTONIO
loses a friend, PORTIA must marry a man she despises,
JESSICA, SHYLOCK'S daughter, realises too late
she's linked herself to a religious bigot.