Boston Court Pasadena is now presenting the world premiere of Everything That Never Happened, written by Sarah B. Mantell and directed by Jessica Kubzansky.
Everything That Never Happened uses The Merchant of Venice as a jumping off point, exposing the realities of Jewish history and drawing well-rounded characters from the stereotypes depicted in the original Shakespeare. The Merchant of Venice is the story of a Jewish moneylender, Shylock, who demands that an anti-Semitic Christian turn over “a pound of flesh” if he cannot pay up his loan. The play is often seen as a prejudiced portrayal of Jewish people.
Mantell’s story adds historical and time-bending context to the Bard’s tale, considering what the account would have been if told by Shylock and his family. It’s, therefore, about everything that Shakespeare left out. “William Shakespeare took a long-existing stereotype and imbued it with just enough empathy that it has lasted generations beyond his death,” said the playwright in an interview with The Realm. “But it’s still a stereotype. One that has been used as an excuse to harm an entire ethnicity/religion/race/culture of people for a very long time. I wanted to write a play that allowed these characters to speak in Jewish voices for the first time. To give them back their history, their humor, their heartbreak.”
This production stars Leo Marks (Shylock), Erika Soto (Jessica), Paul Culos (Lorenzo) and Dylan Saunders (Gobbo). The foursome is brilliant, delivering characters that are victims of their circumstances, yet loving, humorous, and moving.
The stage, designed by François-Pierre Couture, is simple, yet perfect. There’s a long elevated platform that your imagination must turn into the inside of Shylock’s home, as well as the streets and canals of the city of Venice. A smaller wooden platform on wheels is a most clever rendition of a boat that “floats” fluidly about the stage.
Everything that Never Happened is quite intelligent. It gives you food for thought and it prompts you to consider Shakespeare not only as the brilliant writer that he was, but also as a product of his time and, therefore, in need of some enlightenment.
Tickets, priced from $20 – $39, are available at BostonCourtPasadena.org or by calling 626.683.6801. The play will continue through Nov. 4, 2018. It is one hour, 20 minutes long, with no intermission. Boston Court Pasadena is located at 70 N Mentor Ave. Pasadena, CA 91106.
Photo: Paul Culos (Lorenzo) & Erika Soto (Jessica) / Credit: Jenny Graham
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