Merchant of VeniceShakespeare Demystified, a KL-based acting troupe founded in 2011, declares its mission as being to “strive to un-scarify the Bard”. Each year they stage one play, performing it in KL, Penang, and various schools and other institutions around Malaysia.

Their minimalist but creative production approach offers each play in a shortened, simplified and informal fashion that loses nothing of the power of the original story. The actors take time out to explain and explore the reasons, references, and nuances behind the culture and context of the work. Following the performance, the audience is drawn in to discuss with the cast the themes and the audience’s reaction to them.

Shakespeare Demystified is back in Penang for 5 performances of the Merchant of Venice. Don’t miss this opportunity to enjoy Shakespeare’s most controversial play in an entirely accessible fashion.

Eight actors and a minimalist set is magically transformed into nearly two dozen characters shuttling between Venice and Belmont. The Merchant of Venice is a tale about borrowing money to marry money. And then getting into trouble. Antonio, the merchant, desiring to fulfill a friend’s request for 3,000 ducats (about RM2 million before the big devaluation earlier in 2015) to undertake a mission to woo the daughter of a very rich man, obtains a loan. Of course, there are risks to borrowing. Eventually, the loan-bond sweeps Shylock the Jewish moneylender and Antonio, the Christian merchant, and everyone in their worlds into chaos as prejudices and the lust for revenge play out when the borrower defaults on the loan and the lender demands ‘a pound of flesh’.

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Performances in Penang take place on Thursday 14th, Friday 15th, Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th April. Contact penangpac’s box office on 04 899 1722 to purchase tickets.