Shakespeare at The Fringe: Speed Merchant (of Venice)

David Hardie as Bassanio and Jon Weinberg as Antonio

The Hollywood Fringe Festival is underway and look what we found on the Festival’s schedule…Shakespeare! It’s Action! Theatre Company’s world premiere, Speed Merchant (of Venice), adapted by the company’s Artistic Director, Tiger Reel, and Jack Young, Head of the University of Houston Professional Actor Training Program and Houston Shakespeare Festival Associate Artistic Director. This is the follow-up to Action! Theatre Company’s 2011 LA Weekly nominated techno-military adaptation of Othello (which was terrific.)  

Attacking this most controversial story with their customary imagination and visceral staging, Action! Theatre Company presents the tale of corporate killer, Antonio. Antonio enters into a deal with Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, in order to help his former lover take part in “The Lottery”, a reality game show, to vie for the hand of a beautiful heiress. Taking inspiration from the recent tales of corporate malfeasance and the reality show antics of the Kardashians, Speed Merchant (of Venice) is a 90-minute sprint through one of Shakespeare’s nastiest comedies.

The Merchant of Venice is one of Shakespeare’s most modern plays,” Reel says. “Its tone and presentation of some truly flawed characters could find a place on the television dial next to Mad Men and Breaking Bad. It’s a world where racism and anti-Semitism are common place and push a man to the point of rage and desperation. I’m thrilled to be able to work on this with Jack Young and see what buttons get pushed in this day and age.”

Jack Young as Shylock

Young will star as Shylock, with Abbie Cobb (ABC’s Suburgatory) as Jessica and Vanessa Vaughn as Portia. The cast also features Orestes Arcuni, A.J. Diamond, Raymond Donahey, David Hardie, Ted Heyck, Nikki Jenkins, Samantha Klein, Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper, Chris Triana and Jon Weinberg as Antonio.

Fringe performances:
Saturday, June 16 at 2pm
Sunday, June 17 at 8pm
Friday, June 22 at 8pm
Saturday, June 23 at 2pm
Sunday, June 24 at 2pm

artWorks Theatre, 6569 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90038. Click Here for tickets ($12) and more information.

Photo credit: Brian Helm


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