Theater: A 19th Century Shylock

Under the shadow of a Venetian palazzo, the figure strides onstage in the regalia of an affluent Victorian gentleman —top hat, frock coat, gloves and cane.

Is this some cultured character out of the pages of Henry James? One of the gentry from The Forsyte Sagal Hardly. It is Shakespeare's "wolvish, bloody" Shylock, in a provocative new production of The Merchant of Venice by London's National Theatre.

The director is the multidexterous Jonathan Miller, who for the past year has been making a name in England as a Shakespearean interpreter. For his Old Vic...

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