Al Pacino's Complex Shylock

Every modern production of "The Merchant of Venice" faces the same problem: how to deal with Shylock, a gross Jewish caricature. But Al Pacino has managed to make Shylock a complex man reeling in a familiar bubble economy, a "marvelous" world created by Daniel Sullivan in this summer's Shakespeare in the Park, The New York Times says. "And as with most of Mr. Pacino's performances, this one is deeply intelligent and deeply irritating," reviewer Ben Brantley writes. "But it is to the credit of both actor and director that Mr. Pacino serves Mr. Sullivan's vision perfectly here... it suddenly hits you that Shakespeare's vengeance-addled Jew is neither merely the victim nor the villain of this piece; he is instead the very soul of the money-drunk society he serves and despises." And Lily Rabe offers a "smashing breakout performance" as Portia as part of "what may be the finest supporting cast ever assembled for Shakespeare in the Park." The tragedy portrayed is not Shylock's, Brantley writes, but one of the poisonous society that is Venice.