Written by Karen Herrera
A photo by Karen Herrera
On November 1st, I went to the Boston Court Theater to see Everything That Never Happened, by Sarah B. Mantell. The play was a comedy based on Shakespeare’s, The Merchant of Venice. Although I had no prior knowledge about the play, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and thought director Jessica Kubzansky did an excellent job adapting it.
The play revolves around two Venice side characters, father and daughter Shylock and Jessica, who are Jewish and portrayed as villains by Shakespeare. The anti-semitic tones of the original play were swapped out with the perspective of those violated and discriminated against, and even without the current social climate, it was incredibly emotional and thought provoking. I cried twice. The play took place in 1611 - this was repeated many, many times in irony. However, Jessica continually referenced other historical times when her religion was discriminated against: sometimes in the past, sometimes in the future. This didn’t take away from the immersion of the world though, but rather added to the comedy and heavy weight of the play.
I definitely think the set and the way the cast interacted with it played a huge part in evoking emotions in the audience. The actual structure of the set was very minimalist and versatile: the posts served as the waterside location Jessica met up with her lover Lorenzo, as well as the home she shared with her father and their servant Gobbo. The lighting and actors' movements showed the shift between two settings in a natural and believable way that worked with the rhetoric and was never choppy. All of the props fit the set in a non-distracting way, like the dinner table and meals Jessica and Shylock made, or the boat Lorenzo came to take away Jessica with. When Gobbo revealed himself on the boat and Lorenzo fell overboard, he flailed about despite no actual water was present, this definitely added to the comedic effect. And of course, Shylock’s violent baptism in the final scene, where the water poured out from the ceiling left the audience silenced and able to experience even more how horrifically these characters and their real life counterparts were treated.
This play got a heavy emotional response out of me and I think that that is ultimately the most important aspect in theater. Even though there were small things wrong with the production, my reaction of the play was not negatively affected, as much as it gave me a good experience.
Karen is a PCC student majoring in English, hoping to transfer to a 4 year university to get her teaching credential. Karen says, "I love plays, science fiction, and anything that combines the two."
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