A tragically funny classic at Pendragon

SARANAC LAKE Most of us read The Merchant of Venice in high school. Shylock and the pound of flesh contract is probably the most indelible memory of the assignment. What most probably dont remember is that The Merchant of Venice is a comedy. Today, because of its unsettling themes, we would classify it as a tragicomedy. Why the discrepancy? Hemmings and Condell, who published the first folio, may have labeled it as a comedy because romantic comedies were actually preferred by the Elizabethans. They expected and relished stock situations, familiar characters and standard plot twists. Merchant has three romantic stories. In a romantic comedy, the main element and central motive was love. In addition, the heroine was often disguised as a man through part of the play. That device of course provided fodder for comic misunderstanding. The heroine was invariably witty and generally more clever than most of the men. Director Bob Pettee believes that the play is especially relevant as it addresses issues of extending credit and the undercutting of some individuals financial livelihood. Other central themes in Merchant include issues of racial and religious superiority; the relationships of parents to children and vice versa; the value of law and justice; the qualities of mercy. The cast includes: Rebecca Adams, Jason Amrhein, Chris Clarke, Tom Delahant, Scott Eicholtz, Dan Erdmann, Jordan Hornstein, Tim Jock, Chris McGovern, Donna Moschek, Clare Paulson, Vaughn Thompson. Merchant opened Nov. 13, and there are performances scheduled for Nov. 14, 15 and 16 at 2 p.m. The next public performances are Dec. 2, 3 and 13, 14, also at 2 p.m. Pendragons fall show has a dual purpose: a production of a classic play for the general public that also acts as a viable offering for our arts in education tours. Already scheduled public performances outside of Saranac Lake include: The Charles R. Wood Theater in Glens Falls, Malone, North Creek and SUNY Potsdam. Many school performances across the region are in the planning stages including The Lake Placid Center for the Arts. Most public performances begin at 7:30 p.m. except for previously noted 2 p.m. matinees. Tickets are: $20 and $16 for seniors and students. All matinee tickets are $12. For more information and reservations contact Pendragon at 891-1854 or via e-mail: pdragon@northnet.org

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