Current Repertory

The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare

The Merchant of Venice

by William Shakespeare

Translation: Dragoș Protopopescu
Alexander Morfov
Stage version:
Alexander Morfov
Alexander Morfov
Assistant Director:
Patricia Katona
Gabi Albu
Liliana Cenean
Costumes Assistant:
Maria Dore
Inga Krasovska
Light design:
Chris Jaeger
Technical Director:
Silviu Negulete

Premiere: 20.09.2019

Duration: 2 h 30 min / Pause: 15 min


70 lei

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Written at the end of the 16th century, The Merchant of Venice is still an extremely topical play about money, greed, love and inter-racial tensions, about discrimination and revenge. The most controversial Shakespearean writing, "The Merchant of Venice" imposed one of the most fascinating characters of universal drama, Shylock, the Jewish loan shark consumed by the desire to take revenge against his rival, the Christian merchant Antonio. The great controversy surrounding this writing, on the grounds that literary exegesis has issued contradictory opinions, is whether the text is antisemitic or not. Well-known literary critics have accused the play of powerful antisemitism, while for others, the immortal Will does nothing but describe a profound human drama. 

"The Merchant of Venice" - One of the darkest Shakespearean comedies, in which the love story of Bassanio, the man who lost his fortune and who has to borrow to be able to woo the woman he loves, integrates into the much more dramatic story of the Jewish loan shark Shylock and his desire to get a pound from the meat of the Venetian merchant Antonio.

In the NTB show, drama and comedy, farce and romantic entanglements blend with absolute moral dimensions, in an impressive cast, with Ion Caramitru in the role of Shylock, and with a scenography that takes us directly to the heart of Venice. A captivating enactment, with dynamic rhythms, highlighting Shakespeare's extraordinary creative power.


Translated by Simona Nichiteanu

Shylock: Ion Caramitru Antonio: Richard Bovnoczki
Portia: Ada Galeș Bassanio: Alexandru Potocean
Nerissa: Cosmina Olariu Graziano: Silviu Mircescu
Florin Călbăjos
Jessica: Flavia Giurgiu Lorenzo: Ciprian Nicula
Lanceloto: Emilian Mârnea Duke of Venice: Mihai Calotă
Salanio: Petre Ancuța Salarino: Răzvan Oprea
Florin Călbăjos
Tubal / Duke of Saxa` nephew: Mihai Munteniţă Angelica: Ștefania Cîrcu
Cristina Simion
Prince of Morocco: Shahbazimoghadam Mohammad Jawad The Translator: Dragoş Dumitru
Extras: Aurelian Ungurianu
Silviu Negulete

"Morfov's reading grid convinces in a show in which he opts for a pompous theatricality. The director cultivates a postmodern blend with ease. The installation has visual and auditory seduction. It enchants through the design, the chromatic scale of the monumental stage set designed by Gabi Albu. The refined interplay of lines, shapes, colours from character costumes created by Liliana Cenean conquers. The contrast of twilight and bright lights of master Chris Jaeger expressively and plastically carves the theatrical atmosphere and the movements of the actors in the choreography of Inga Krasovska. The musical cocktail (chosen by the director) animates the dynamics of the show and emotionally charges the states of the performers. Alexander Morfov's directorial vision is a beneficial encounter for the troupe at the level of artistic performance.

After Caramitru-Prospero from "The Tempest", Caramitru-Shylock conquers again by means force and virtuosity. In a choral show, Ion Caramitru plays magisterially. His art brings to the stage the force of expression of the foreground and the close-up: in the metallic gleams of the eyes, the lively lips, the mocking smile in the corner of the mouth, the stony face, disfigured by suffering and hatred or illuminated by filial love. The voice, the way in which the Shakespearean word (from Dragoș Protopopescu's translation) is deeply charged, forms a sonoroussetting. In this endeavor, the actor is a master, a refined aesthete. In cold or light tones, heoscillates between torture and tenderness. The tension escalates and paroxysmally breaks out in the heartbreaking song Halaila and the dramatic monologue (”Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions?”)which closes the first act. It is an anthological moment, of great spectacular emotion.

"The Merchant of Venice" enthuses the general theatre-loving audience and enjoys praises from critics. A show that announces longevity and we endorse it."

Ludmila Patlanjoglu, Cotidianul - NTB Event: Caramitru - Shylock  

NTB's "Merchant of Venice" is a Shakespearean show, not only for Shakespeare connoisseurs. It has humour, active scenes, it surprises, it tells a balanced story in which societal guiltencounters personal guilt. The wicked men treat women and Jews poorly, and the greedy Jew receives the punishment for his personal hatred. The scale remains in a stable equilibrium and time goes by imperceptibly in the show hall. ”

Alina Epingeac, Amfiteatru Magazine - “The Merchant of Venice” - Usury with guilt  

"The Merchant of Venice" is an event show by subtly dealing with an ever-present theme - love, money and religion, in emotional and challenging moral terms, through the merits of the director and the actors, led by Ion Caramitru impersonating the memorable Shylock who know how to show us how … contemporary old William Shakespeare remains.

In the stage version, director Alexander Morfov carefully seeks to emphasize the moral ambiguity of the money - love game also in the context of a religious confrontation, aptly and coherently tackling the theatrical plot, step by step on several levels; in the overall religious conflict, Christians - Jews, all are people, but with serious moral flaws.

The directorial vision proposes, without resorting to theatrical exaggerations, a "mirror" of today's world, presenting from the beginning the joy and frivolity of some young people, then to develop the conflict step by step, until the dramatic moment, loaded with suspense of judgment to Shylock." 

Ileana Lucaciu, Spectator - Successful demonstration of the moral game - money, love, religion 

"Have people's relationships changed when money enter the discussion? Profit, manipulation and tensions arising from money seem to always remain topical. This is explained by some passions that lead to the loss of the self from the recent enactment, The Merchant of Venice, at the National Theatre of Bucharest. Once made the choice for this dramatic text (The Merchant of Venice), the stage director, Alexander Morfov, brings to the fore themes such as: love and hatred, passions intertwined with humour, but - all - dealt with in depth. The story unfolded on the Studio Stage of the Bucharest National also speaks of a tragic story (with several tragic narrative threads around it), alternating beauty and magic, parodic loads, with moments that invoke respect (discrimination and revenge float in the subtext).

On the «lagoon» of the Studio Hall from the National Theatre, a world of opposites is emerging, which brings together the concreteness of life and the illusion of the dream. On stage, the hidden fight takes place like a storm of weapons and ammunition, carried out by the Bucharest actors. A team game is practiced, which requires multiple players in the individual performances, but also in the cyclic collective return. One of the most powerful characters in Shakespeare's dramaturgy - Shylock - is impersonated by Ion Caramitru, who is at the second major collaboration with the Bulgarian director (after the role of Prospero in The Tempest). This villain in love with a passion for money is solidly and poignantly configured by Ion Caramitru, a highly refined presence on stage. The actor composes, with suppleness, the morgue of a sufficiency that only the passing of years and the fatality can overcome (masterful live performance of the song "Halaila"), placing the hero in a truly tragic deadlock.

All component elements compete in rendering tangible the image of a world with passions and impulses, in which true lovers have a hard time achieving love, and the range of emotions is wide: envy, jealousy, trust, love, money, racism and beauty. The world is mad, as love sometimes becomes. Reality is conditioned by a simple binomial, the same since the Renaissance until nowadays: the instinct drives and the (ambiguity) balance of reason. The art of the stage cannot stay far from the image of the world, which, according to the Shakespearean statement, is meant to mirror. The Merchant of Venice still launches dilemmas, under the false pretense of a comedy, leaving the impression that it is a light musical, but the enactment from the Bucharest National invites to reflection. "

Madalina Dumitrache, Bel-Esprit - Justice in a Variable Geometry - "The Merchant of Venice" 


Translated by Simona Nichiteanu 

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