By Adam Hembree
ROME, Sept. 22—The Silvano Toti Globe
Theatre's 2008 season finished with Sunday’s performance of Shakespeare’s
The Merchant of Venice. Loredana Scaramella, who directed the production,
also collaborated on the Italian translation and starred as Porzia,
the female lead.
The theatre, an impressive replica of the original Globe Theatre built in London in 1599, is located in the Museum Park of the Villa Borghese. It is an open-air venue made entirely of wood. Three circular levels seat 1,250 people; over 400 fit in a pit for standing-room tickets.
The Merchant of Venice,
a comedy, features the struggles of the generous Antonio (Orlando Cinque)
with the merciless moneylender Shylock (Carlo Ragone). While fraught
with physical humor and amusing scenes, the play creates some truly
dramatic moments that often catch the viewer unaware.
Ragone’s Shylock delivers a moving soliloquy that captures the prevalent questions of anti-Semitism. His bitter character suddenly withers into the play’s most sympathetic advocate for justice. As he huddles on the floor, stroking the yellow armband that signifies his faith and whispering, “Mi contento,” it is easy to forget this is a comedy.
The illusion only lasts so
long as zany costumes and live music from the Trio William Kemp keep
things moving. The musicians feature both as accompaniment from the
stage balcony and as performers during intermission.
Several of the actors also
provide impressive vocals for the songs. Their
voices and the humorous inclusion of the musicians as servants and extras
provide a new dimension of talent to the production.