|Tracie Thomason as Portia in The Merchant of Venice. Photo by Michael Bailey.|
There are several standout performances in the production. Keegan's Shylock is the consummate characterization of the role. I have never seen Keegan deliver anything but a first-rate performance. He is as steady as they come, not just reliable, but exceptional. ASC newcomer Tracie Thomason turns in a splendid performance as the beautiful and exceedingly wealthy Portia. I look forward to seeing more of her work this season. Chris Johnston is strong as Lorenzo but very nearly steals the show as the foolish and outlandish Prince of Arragon complete with laced cod piece. Benjamin Curns plays the bastard to the hilt as Gratiano, Shylock's trial tormentor and friend of Bassanio. In the final act, he deftly changes back to good old sitcom husband Gratiano. Allison Glenzer, brilliant as always, is wonderful as Nerissa and she and Curns have a witty little pre-show skit. Greg Phelps turns in a strong performance as Bassanio, particularly as concerns his relationship with Portia. Abbi Hawk plays an especially intriguing Jessica, and John Harrell is classic John Harrell as Launcelot Gobbo.
I look forward to seeing this production several more times before its November closing. It really is a masterful production of a very troubling play. Seeing the play prompts me to go back and read it again, particularly the notes (and the note on the text- thank you William Proctor Williams). Don't hesitate to check out this troubling play. It will make you think and reflect upon your own thoughts, and what more should we expect from Shakespeare, but to be entertained and to learn?