July 25, 2012


Matt Gunnison, Brian Matin, Catz Forsman (on Hi-rise), Ryan Hayes and Dash Hilman. Photo: Jay Yamada



Let’s give The Custom Made Theatre hands together for mounting this new take on “The Merchant”. The modern dress of the actors is not the style of today, ( but it is the style of the 50’s where Cigarettes lit up in offices and the men were always looking to hit on one of the Sexy Women that do the slink walk. By the way – in this updated version the guys have Cell phones and the men also hit on men. As Judy Garland might say: “Oh My!” Yes, in this newer world – you could call the play “The Merchants of Wall Street!

The Shakespeare play of course, was categorized as ‘a comedy’. Yes, it is – and it is also a tragedy. Why? – Because it’s about an arrogant and rich Jewish man who is despised, by Christian citizens of Venice. Hey, they’re just trying to up the Ante when it comes to money. After all, it’s all business. And in this flashy show – that’s all they ever think about.

Problems arise when a friend, who lacks immediate Cash, turns to Shylock (the Jew), who makes the loan. Shylock forces Antonio to agree to yield a pound of flesh if he doesn’t cough up the money. Shylock is not amused when Antonio can’t come up with the cash and he threatens Antonio.

There are many lingering images in this fine production.  ‘Shylock” (the Jew) is both wronged and overcome by his own dealings.

Here’s the bottom line of the story. It’s about men who pull sneaky and troubling tricks between the moneylender and a businessman. Comedy perhaps? – But, it also, is very heavy on the arrogant and sneaky. And Shakespeare might even say: Oh, it was ‘Much Ado about nothing.’ Well, actually – that is the title of one of his many plays. Just checking to make sure that you already knew that.

HERE IS THE EXCELLENT CAST: Brian Martin, Kim Saunders, Ryan Hayes, Claire Rice, Tonya Narvaez, Dashiell Hillman, Matt Gunnison, Megan Briggs, Molly Holcomb, Catz Forsman, Perry Aliado, Gabriel A. Ross, Stefin Collins, Jean Forsman and Perry Aliado. Great acting by all! The most applause went to CATZ FORSMAN. And, why not? To me, he was the most surprising actor so far this season.

*Superb Direction by Stuart Bousel.
Sarah Phykitt – Terrific Scenic Design. Excellent Costume Design by Tim Malko Fabulous Lighting Design by Maxx Kurzunski and wonderful Sound Design by Ryan Lee Short.

Now Playing at the Custom Made Theatre on Gough Street.


and hosted a long-running Arts Segment on PBS-KQED)))

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and he produced a long-running Arts Segment on PBS-KQED)))

*courtesy: beyondchron

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