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The Merchant of Venice (The Secret Theatre)

From 6 critic and 7 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Ambitious, Absorbing, Must see, Funny

About the show

The Secret Theatre presents Shakespeare's dark comedy about ethnic animosity set in post-World War II Italy. More…

This mounting of the Bard's troublesome comedy shines a spotlight on anti-Semitism while still finding the laughs in the romantic subplots. Young suitor Bassanio needs some cash so he can woo the elegant Portia in style. We're talking a team of servants, a new set of fancy threads, and plenty of bling to impress the rich heiress. The problem is, Bassanio's broke. His best friend Antonio would personally lend him the cash, but all of his money is tied up in ventures involving a bunch of merchant ships and a harrowing sea. So Antonio suggests Bassanio borrow money from Shylock, using his buddy's good credit as collateral. Shylock agrees to the loan, but asks for a pound of Antonio's flesh as a guarantee. Shylock acts like it's all in 'merry sport,' but when he ends up demanding his bond in a big courtroom showdown, nobody's laughing.

Theater Pizzazz

"A terrific new production...The Secret Theatre has produced a very compelling 'Merchant of Venice'...Outstanding casting and acting from the principal characters take the play to an entirely different level...Richard Mazda, with his distinctive accent that hearkens a character actor in an English gangster movie, is perhaps one of the best Shylocks (of many) I have ever seen...Don’t miss it. This is as good an independent production of 'Merchant' as one could hope for." Full Review


"The superb new production accepts Shakespeare’s villain at face value, portraying him through Mazda’s scorching performance as a complex, twisted bad guy deserving of both sympathy and despite...Bonilla has set the action in post-World War II Italy...The conceit works, thanks to Bonilla’s fully realized vision and the efforts of a strong cast...Famous passages slide by organically, thus all the more powerfully. The production finds room for the many modes of Shakespearean theatricality." Full Review

Times Ledger

"The real test of contemporary re-imaginings of the Bard lies in how they walk the fine line between the poetry of the language and the complexity of the plot. In this regard, the production succeeds with flying colors. The attempt to deliver the lines with strict Elizabethan pronunciation is done away with, and the relaxed speaking voices of the actors respect the rhythm and beauty of the text while also providing the audience with a clear, involving story line." Full Review

The Queens Courier

"Offering a strong cast and a plea for earthquake-battered Italy, the Secret Theatre's high quality and good intentions are truly 'good business'...Director Albert Bonilla offers highly skilled actors whose characterizations feed the story's ambiguities...Their preference for characterization over politics intentionally leaves the audience with a sense of discomfort. It's the same disquieting feeling that greets us when watching the 6 o'clock news...Bravo indeed!" Full Review

Queens Chronicle

"Although Shylock is set up to be the villain in the story, the hatred and vitriol aimed at him make the viewer feel some sympathy for him...This is done in part by Shakespeare’s writing as well as the portrayal of the character by Richard Mazda. Mazda is able to portray the pain Shylock feels from being treated as a lesser...While the hatred toward Jews takes front and center in Bonilla’s rendition, the subplots are just as expertly played out by the actors on stage." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"It is set in post-WWII Italy...This update to the story is handled well, and indeed adds a new dimension, without detracting from the emphasis of the story. This production has put together a generally talented cast...The cast is made up of largely younger performers, the most seasoned and elder statesman of the troupe being the terribly talented Richard Mazda playing Shylock...I have seen him perform far more powerfully in other productions in the past." Full Review

Great acting, Must see, Profound, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if You love original interpretations of Shakespeare, excellent acting, easy to follow plot. Very comedic at times, but tragic.

Don't see it if You don't appreciate Shakespeare! Otherwise, see this before it closes! Great intro to Shakespeare for anyone, including teens!

Absorbing, Great acting, Refreshing

See it if you enjoy a fresh take on a Shakespeare classic. Great acting, especially Shylock.

Don't see it if you don't like Shakespeare or the themes present in this play.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Edgy

See it if you love Shakespeare

Don't see it if if you only look at the pictures in the newspaper

Clever, Funny, Great staging, Quirky, Riveting

See it if You enjoy a funny show that keeps you entetained the entire time.

Don't see it if You are easily confused by Shakespearian language.

Thought-provoking, Excruciating, Ambitious

See it if You want to see 2 fabulous actress steal a show from a cast of men

Don't see it if You prefer fast paced Shakespeare

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting

See it if this production is creative, daring, and intelligent

Don't see it if you hate theater

Funny, Great acting, Enchanting, Delightful, Must see

See it if You love to laugh, you love Shakespeare, and you enjoy a great ending.

Don't see it if you prefer dramas, you dislike Shakespeare, you do not enjoy great theatre.

Cast & Creatives (19)