Anyone for Venice? Wesker, Marowitz, and Pascal Appropriate The Merchant of Venice

  • Graham Saunders
Part of the Adaptation in Theatre and Performance book series (ATP)


This chapter analyzes Arnold Wesker’s Shylock (1976), Charles Marowitz’ s Variations on The Merchant of Venice (Marowitz 1977), and Julia Pascal’s The Shylock Play (2009). All three dramatists have felt compelled to appropriate Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, due to what they perceive as its anti-Semitism, particularly after the Holocaust, if anything makes the play even more problematic when it comes to performing it. The chapter looks at the various ways each of these contemporary dramatists have ‘answered back’ to the Shakespearean ‘problem play’. Wesker’s approach is to place it in a more historically accurate Renaissance Venice, one that allows us to see the city’s treatment of its Jewish population more clearly. Marowitz places his version in Palestine after World War II and also incorporates material from Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta. In contrast, Pascal’s approach is to use a framing device of a ‘play within a play’ in which we watch a rehearsal of The Merchant of Venice, whose action is periodically interrupted.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BirminghamBirminghamUK

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