The Merchant of Venice 2010

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Directed by Mark von Eschen, Set Design by Carla Orosz, Costume Design by Beverley Kobelsky, Lighting Design by Stephen Wade

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Bassanio, a Venetian nobleman who is having financial difficulties (from overspending) asks his friend Antonio, The Merchant of Venice, to loan him money to help him win the hand of Portia, a rich heiress of Belmont.  Antonio agrees to help Bassanio; however, his fortune is tied up at sea so he must find another means to obtain the necessary funds.  With Antonio’s consent, Bassanio inquires about a loan from a rich Jew named Shylock.  Shylock, an adversary of Antonio, agrees to lend Bassanio 3000 ducats under the condition that if Antonio does not repay the loan within three months time, rather than collect interest (which is not Christian) he will cut a pound of flesh from Antonio’s body.  Despite Bassanio’s warnings, Antonio accepts the deal with complete confidence as he expects his ships to return with much profit in two months.  While this is occurring, Shylock’s servant, Launcelot, decides to quit that position to work for Bassanio.  Shylock’s daughter, Jessica chooses to elope with a young Christian named Lorenzo, a friend of Bassanio and Antonio’s.  To be with her love, Jessica must run away from home in the middle of the night.  Meanwhile, in Belmont, Portia is left with her late father’s will that states whoever wants to marry her must first solve the riddle he has left.  Her father has left a set of three caskets: one gold, one silver, and one lead, each bearing an inscription.  Each bachelor must select one casket; whoever chooses the correct casket will win Portia’s hand.  Several suitors test their luck at the lottery, however, it remains unsolved until Bassanio arrives in Belmont, determined to become Portia’s husband.  Gratiano accompanies Bassanio to Belmont and is very attracted to Portia’s confidante, Nerissa, and wishes to marry her.  Back in Venice, things take a turn for the worst for Antonio and a clever plan is hatched to rescue him.

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