The Merchant of Venice (Classic Radio Theatre)

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9781408469798: The Merchant of Venice (Classic Radio Theatre)
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Warren Mitchell stars with Martin Jarvis, Samuel West and Juliet Aubrey in this BBC Radio 4 production of Shakespeare's thrilling courtroom drama. Shakespeare's classic play explores the eternal themes of love and hate, mercy and justice, with parallel stories centred on the moneylender, Shylock, and the lovers, Portia and Bassanio. Shylock's angry insistence on the repayment of his debt from Bassanio ends in the Venetian courts where he demands his 'pound of flesh'. Portia meanwhile, a wealthy young Venetian woman, must marry one of her many suitors. Her late father's will has set the challenge by means of three caskets, one gold, one silver and one lead. The climax of the play takes place in court, with Portia, now disguised as a man and defending the life of Antonio, imploring Shylock to show mercy. This superb production of Shakespeare's dramatic and complex play is directed by the award-winning Peter Kavanagh and features specially-composed music by the renowned Barrington Pheloung. The Classic Radio Theatre range presents notable radio productions of much-loved plays by some of the most renowned playwrights, and starring some of our finest actors.

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About the Author:

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, and was baptised on 26 April 1564. His father was a glove maker and wool merchant and his mother, Mary Arden, was the daughter of a well-to-do local land owner. Shakespeare was probably educated in Stratford’s grammar school. In 1582 he married Anne Hathaway, and the couple had a daughter the following year and twins in 1585.

Shakespeare’s theatrical life seems to have commenced around 1590. We do know that he was part of the Lord Chamberlain’s Company, which was renamed the King’s Company in 1603 when James I succeeded to the throne. The Company acquired interests in two theatres in the Southwark area of London, near the banks of the Thames - the Globe and the Blackfriars.

Shakespeare’s poetry was published before his plays, with two poems appearing in 1593 and 1594, dedicated to his patron Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. Most of Shakespeare’s sonnets were probably written at this time as well.

Records of Shakespeare’s plays begin to appear in 1594, and he produced roughly two a year until around 1611. His earliest plays include Henry VI and Titus Andronicus.A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice and Richard II all date from the mid to late 1590s. Some of his most famous tragedies were written in the early 1600s; these includeHamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth and Antony & Cleopatra. His late plays, often known as the Romances, date from 1608 onwards and includeThe Tempest.

Shakespeare died on 23 April 1616 and was buried in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. The first collected edition of his works was published in 1623 and is known as the First Folio’.

From the Back Cover:

The Merchant of Venice is best known for its complex and ambiguous portrait of the Jewish moneylender Shylock--and of European anti-Semitism. Fascinating in its engagement with prejudice, the play is also a comedy of cross-dressing and disguise, and a dramatic exploration of justice, mercy, and vengeance. This volume contains the full text of the play with explanatory footnotes and marginal glosses for contemporary readers. A well-rounded selection of background materials not only illuminates anti-Semitism in early modern England but also provides context for other facets of the play, including its comic plot of love and marriage, its examination of usury and international trade, and its themes of revenge and the law.

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