It would be a travesty if Shylock were played by a woman. John Nathan ( JC, Jan 22) refers to Vanessa Redgrave as a ‘‘memorable Prospero’’ — memorable only in so far as it was awful.
The problem of a woman playing Shylock will falter around her failure to go along with the ‘’quality of mercy’’ — or what’s a woman in the role for? Shakespeare does not provide the words for that take on the role. And since, precisely, Portia plays Belisario as a man to get her man, how can a woman play Shylock against that?
And at a time when we are anticipating Howard Jacobson’s new novel on the subject — in which the trope of the father and daughter motif is a driving force — the promotion of a female Shylock is dismal. Stephen Massil London N8