The Merchant of Venice Review

There is a reason we keep coming back to the works of William Shakespeare. Underneath the seemingly confusing language and 16th-century clothing are stories about human beings.

A new adaptation of The Merchant of Venice premiered at the Theater for a New Audience on February 5th in Brooklyn. John Douglas Thompson stars at the eponymous Shylock, a Jewish merchant, whose world is torn apart by two interwoven narratives. His daughter, Jessica (Danaya Esperanza) falls in love with and elopes with a Christian boy, Lorenzo (David Lee Hyunh). As a condition of her vows, she had to convert to Christianity.

Meanwhile, Bassanio (Sanjit De Silva) is in love with Portia (Isabella Arraiza). But he cannot marry her without money. Portia is an heiress whose potential marriage is tied to a challenge tied to her fortune by her late father. Bassanio turns to Antonio (Alfredo Narciso) for advice (and financial assistance) who turns to Shylock for a loan because of his own money problems.

I loved this play. For obvious reasons (ahem, antisemitism) this story is still too relevant. What made it unique was the multi-cultural colorblind cast and the modern clothing worn by the actors. The thing that strikes me about The Merchant of Venice is that if the word “Jew” is replaced by any other ethnicity, the impact would be the same. The hatred, the prejudice, and the accusations would be just as potent.

After watching Thompson play the role, I have a deeper understanding of his character. This is a man who has been verbally assaulted by his neighbors for years. The final nail in the coffin is the loss of his daughter, sending him over the edge and unable to hold in the anger that has been bubbling beneath the surface.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

The Merchant of Venice is playing at the Theater for a New Audience until March 6th, 2022. Check the website for ticket availability and showtimes.

Flashback Friday: Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014)

When a film franchise becomes successful, the audience becomes more discerning. Based on the previous movies in the series, we have certain expectations of where the narrative will go.

Night of the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014) is the third movie in the Night at the Museum trilogy. Following the events of Night at the Museum (2006) and Night at the Museum: Battle for the Smithsonian (2009), Larry Dailey (Ben Stiller) has to save the magic before all is lost. Along the way, he is helped by old friends Jedediah (Owen Wilson), Octavius (Steve Coogan), and Teddy Roosevelt (the late Robin Williams in the next to last role before his untimely passing) and new friends. These new friends include Sir Lancelot (Dan Stevens) and Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek).

Though this movie is not as good as its predecessors, it is not all bad. It has the same energy and comedy as the first two films. But there is something missing, though I cannot put my finger on it.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

The New York City Pay Transparency Law is a Long Time Coming and Very Necessary

It is a truth universally acknowledged that looking for new employment sucks. It can, however, be made easier when the job ad contains all of the information that the job seeker needs to make a decision. That includes the potential salary.

On May 15th, the New York City Pay Transparency Law will be on the books in NYC. It requires that companies with four or more employees list a salary range when posting about open positions.

Frankly, it’s about time that was written into city law. It’s not about being greedy, it’s just plain common sense.

On a recent segment on WNYC‘s The Brian Lehrer Show, the question of whether it will help or hurt a potential employee’s chance of being hired when the question of pay came up.

Back when I was unemployed, there were a number of job ads that did not provide information on what the corresponding paycheck would be. The problem with that is that it wastes the time and energy of both the applicant and the person who has posted the ad. I remember applying to a specific job, liking what I read. When I was contacted for an interview, I had to turn it down because I knew that I could not live on what they were paying. I applied to the same company for the same position a short time later (because the company did not identify itself in either ad). When they contacted me again, I had to once more turn it down.

To say that I was frustrated at that moment was an understatement. It’s difficult as is, but to have my time unnecessarily squandered just added to the difficulty. I understand that for every position and the corresponding tasks, there is a price point. Asking for this information is not an out-of-the-box question. It allows the applicant to make an informed decision, which in turn allows the company to make a similar informed decision as to whom they will hire.

The search for new employment is strenuous, to say the least. Requiring the salary range allows all parties to make a decision that is mutually beneficial to both.

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