Ethan McSweeny
It is a visual feast; every corner of Harman Hall's capacious stage is alive with information, and sumptuously rich.Tim Treanor, DC Theatre Scene
McSweeney nails the big picture, but gives equal weight to the quiet moments. There's so much rich interplay in this production it's hard to know where to look.–
One of the chief joys of director Ethan McSweeny's sprawling production now playing at the Shakespeare Theatre Company is the restoration of Antonio as the merchant of Venice. Derek Smith's economical portrayal, containing the character's melancholy and self-loathing within the cool veneer of commerce and charisma, is revelatory.Jenn Larsen, We Love DC
The second exposure of the soul beneath that touched me most was Shylock's reaction to friend Tubal's recounting of Jessica's betrayal, the selling of her mother's ring to gain a monkey. Nelson's anguish is so simple yet searing it reminds one that these are lines most potent in Shakespeare, the prose that goes right to the heart of it – 'I had it of Leah when I was a bachelor. I would not have given it for a wilderness of monkeys.' There are things one does not part with for gain, and here McSweeny punctuates the humanity of Shylock.Jenn Larsen, We Love DC
Mark Nelson's Shylock is quite unlike any I have ever seen. Better, perhaps, than the others because he makes this complex character so human. ..His demeanor is more than sympathetic. And yet, as he sharpens his knife, to get his 'pound of flesh' in the manner of a barber, he is to be feared greatly. Susan Davidson, Curtain up review
McSweeny highlights those divisions by moving the action from 16th-century Venice to 1920s New York City, a place where there was a neighborhood for every ethnicity, cultural lines reflected in geographical boundaries…the transfer works wonderfully. The jazz-age trappings, noir-ish lighting and street level smoke and fog, and a backdrop of speakeasies and organized crime give the proceedings an undercurrent of menace that gives a dark edge to the humor.Ian Buckwalter, The DCist
The approach makes Portia pretty unattractive, and it's a credit to Coffey and her director that they don't try to soften her edges by making her flighty or offhand.Bob Mondello, Washington City Paper
With so many characters ranging from insensitive to reprehensible, comedy's no more or less appropriate than it is in, say, South Park. This proves a workable if not a particularly ingratiating approach at Sidney Harman Hall, where designer Andrew Lieberman centers a massive industrial-steel setting on a stage-dominating staircase that suggests upward mobility.Bob Mondello, Washington City Paper
This production succeeds in laying out the casual cruelty among all the characters. Susan Berlin, Talkin' Broadway
...technically brilliant, well-acted, full of small insights and pleasures both large and small...Tim Treanor, DC Theatre Scene


by William Shakespeare

Shakespeare Theatre Company 2011

Sets - Andrew Lieberman
Lights - Marcus Doshi
Costumes - Jennifer Moeller
Composition & Sound - Steven Cahill
Choreography - Karma Camp