Saturday, June 26, 2010

Waiting in Central Park with iPhone 4 to see Pacino in Merchant of Venice

Waiting in line in Central Park since 6am for tickets to see Al Pacino in Shakespeare in the Park's Merchant of Venice, June 25, 2010. Made video while waiting using nothing more than iMovie on brand new iPhone 4. (Note, video quality actually much better, but the phone only e-mails out compressed versions. Will try to fix later.)

The play was quite good. It was fresh for me, since I think I've seen it, but have only vague memories of even the plot. Didn't feel as coherent as the Twelfth Night production Anne Hathaway was in last year, which felt as light and airy as a Meg Ryan Rom Com's (which is impressive for Shakespeare).

Merchant felt disjoint, slap-dash. With scattered bits of topsy turvy plot like some Romantic opera. Where Shylock dies in Act 4, leaving a full 5th act for awkward merriment.

I guess someone said Shakespeare's plays can be categorized into tragedy (where everyone dies) or comedy (where everyone gets married), and then there is Merchant of Venice. Everyone gets married, but yet, the character with the most sympathetic (and most quoted) soliloquy dies in tragedy.

I wonder if this ambivalence was there in Shakespeare's time or just a product of our modern feelings toward anti-Semitism. I feel Shaks must have, given Shylock is so well developed, and the "heroes" are mostly made to be foppish fools. The production (which incidentally had an amazing circular stage design which evoked Victorian trading floors and sumptuous palaces simultaneously) certainly embraced the ambivalence well, bringing Shylock into the 5th act through his daughter Jessica, and ending with emphasis on the line "I am sure you are not satisfied."

Pacino was great, as hunched Shylock, doing a yiddish accent with the classic sing-song Pacino cadence that impressionists love.

All in all, 7 hours of line sitting well spent. Beautiful weather, lazing in the park. Even got some work done.

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