Arnold Wesker

BBC Radio 3 : Drama on 3

Broadcast: Sunday 5th March 2006 @ 7:30 p.m.

One of the foremost playwrights of his generation creates a startling new perspective on Shakespeare's "Merchant of Venice". Set in the Jewish Ghetto of Venice, 1563, "Shylock" 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 3,000 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.

Adapted for radio from Arnold Wesker's 1989 stage play, "Shylock" (first written in 1976), was first performed at the Riverside Studios, Crisp Road, London.

With Henry Goodman [Shylock Kolner], Ronald Pickup [Antonio], Juliet Stevenson [Portia Contarini], Toby Stephens [Bassanio], Sheila Steafel [Rivka], Lydia Leonard [Jessica], Geoffrey Streatfeild [Lorenzo], Jonathan Tafler [Tubal di Ponti], Nicholas Boulton [Graziano], Noma Dumezweni [Nerissa], Jennie Stoller [Rebecca da Mendes], Geoffrey Beevers [The Doge / Solomon Usque], Anthony Glennon [Roderigues da Cunha], and Annette Ross [The Singer].

Directed by David Hitchinson

120 min.


Back to top

Radio Plays
Wine Making
Cosby Methodist Church
Gokart Racing
Links to other sites
Contact Us