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 Al Pacino in 'The Merchant of Venice'

Al Pacino Shylock is the talk of New York at this time, a minimum of once the conversation turns out of the insufferable heat wave. His performance inside the Public Theater's production of Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" (running in rep with Michael Greif's staging of "The Winter's Tale") marks returning to form for that actor, who just adopted an Emmy nomination for his portrayal of Jack Kevorkian within the HBO film "You Have no idea of Jack." It's also essentially the most intriguing element in veteran director Daniel Sullivan's handling of a play that's as curiously compelling as it is notoriously troubling. But Shakespeare, as was his wont, humanized the figure of the villainous stage Jew, a standard feature of Elizabethan theatergoing. Consequently, "Merchant" holds a commanding interest whilst it offends contemporary sensibilities.

Pacino tackles the process through a disciplined reworking in the controversial character, bringing some outerborough realism (Borough Park, Brooklyn meets the Bronx's Grand Concourse) for an oldworld caricature. To remain reading Charles McNulty critic notebook, click this link..