A deep satire on society then and now, The Merchant of Venice was traditionally classified as a comedy with confused love triangles at its core. However, it is also an exciting thriller: a dark and twisted tragedy with a dramatic climax.
With the economy booming, an environment of excess prevails – the voice of the less-fortunate is drowned out in the cacophony of consumerism and a culture of instigated aspiration. In a society where minorities are marginalised, where communal concerns are never far from the surface and the mafia is above ground; The Merchant of Venice carries great resonance for urban Indians.
Shakespeare is always a risk and a challenge. While it would be cruel to dilute the poetry of the dialogue and make it more accessible, Shakespeare’s genius lies in the fact that he had tremendous insight into human behaviour and could manifest it in dialogue that was natural and yet subliminal in its poetry.
We take the audience into the world of the great gamblers, rich merchants, businessmen, socialites and the prodigal youth. Imagine the world of Paris Hilton, Las Vegas, Wall Street and Manhattan all rolled into one, where everything is a game of chance.
Imagine the 21st century.
Masque Theatre was launched in 1987 with Vickram Kapadia’s first directorial venture, Luigi Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author. This was followed by landmark productions, such as David Henry Hwang’s Dance and the Railroad, William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and his own Black with Equal among others. Masque ventured into the world of Hindi theatre in 2013 with the Hindi version of Bombay Talkies, which Vickram had written and directed in English for the company Orchid Room Experiment in 2011. After The Merchant of Venice, the company will, due to popular demand, revive Black with Equal.