The problematic British theater company Propeller (problematic because of its all-male membership) begins its 11-day run of Shakespeare’s problem play The Merchant of Venice (problematic because it involves an entire court conspiring to do a Jew out of the money he’s owed) at BAM tonight.
The notion behind Propeller’s casting policy is that in Shakespeare’s time women weren’t allowed to act in British theaters, so the plays would have been written with men for the female roles in mind. Thusly, Propeller aims to get at the essence of Shakespeare’s texts, which, of course, are patchworks of different drafts and writers’ memos, edits and revisions to begin with, but who believes in totemic authorial identities anymore anyways, right? In a nutshell, Merchant is one of Shakespeare’s classic mistaken-identity comedies, with some healthful helpings of Orientalism and a massive courtroom scene plopped right in its midst. We look forward to seeing how these gents keep our interest through it all.