Sunday, March 25, 2007

Guthrie 'Merchant' Delivers the Goods

Women wield tremendous power in "The Merchant of Venice," even if they do needlepoint as a ruse to protect the egos of clueless men.

That is one of the points that is finely illumined in Joe Dowling's exquisite production of "The Merchant of Venice," which opened Friday with the divine Michelle O'Neill delivering an excellent performance as Portia.

The first Shakespearean play on the Guthrie's Wurtele Thrust stage, "Merchant" is elegantly designed by Riccardo Hernandez (his set features a floor inlaid with interlocking circles and gold-hued, cathedral-style doors ringing the half-circle world of the play); Paul Tazewell (gorgeous period costumes), and Matthew Reinert (lights). One can only guess at the budget for such sumptuousness.

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