Selling Shakespeare

The Merchant of Venice is a comedy? Oh, sure, that's easy for you to say, white bread. If you're Jewish or black--ol' Willie Shakespeare's play has some unflattering words about a Moorish prince's complexion, and, of course, there's Shylock--you might not exactly split your sides. On the plus side, liberally speaking, the play does take a pretty positive view of man-love. (Antonio, the merchant who mortgages a pound of his flesh to the Jewish moneylender Shylock, is as gay as a Broadway chorus line.) Unrequited homoerotic love, forced religious conversion, vicious anti-Semitism. Yep, it's a laugh riot. On the other hand, the play does include the beautiful encomium to mercy ("The quality of mercy is not strain'd"), which Shakespeare probably needed plenty of in the afterlife if Jews really are God's chosen people. See for yourself as the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave., presents a performance of The Merchant of Venice by UT-Austin's Shakespeare at Winedale, for one night only at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Tickets are $15 general admission, $10 for students. Call 214-953-1212 or visit
Thu., Aug. 14, 7:30 p.m., 2008
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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams