The term “dramedy,” signifying a mingling of drama and comedy, had yet to be coined back when Shakespeare was being so prolific. Had it been, some critic in the Bard’s day might have dubbed The Merchant of Venice a dramedy. While the play possesses the familiar devices of Shakespearean comedies – quarreling lovers, cross-dressing, cutting quips – it traffics deeply in themes of prejudice, persecution, revenge and retribution. In the Old Globe’s Summer Shakespeare Festival production, Miles Anderson delivers a soaring performance as Shylock, the Jewish money lender. The full breadth of that performance largely overshadows everything else in this staging (directed by Adrian Noble), lush though it may be.
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.