(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 5/20.)
What to do with this endlessly problematic play? Directors such as Peter Zadek and David Thacker set it in the stock exchange. But Rupert Goold, as is his wont, goes for broke by transporting it wholesale to modern Las Vegas, where showbiz fantasy meets speculative capitalism; and the result is, by turns, brilliant, outrageous and excessive.
At first I had difficulty working out the logic of the setting: why, in particular, should Patrick Stewart's multi-millionaire property-owning, semi-assimilated Shylock feel an "ancient grudge" towards the local Christians? And could we really believe they would void their spittle upon him in the wide streets of the US gambling capital?