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Few people today think of The Merchant of Venice as a comedy, or of Shylock (pictured) as a supporting character. As audiences have become more conscious of anti-Semitism—and Venetian usurer Shylock is an anti-Semitic character, although he’s usually portrayed more sympathetically these days than in Shakespeare’s time—the Jewish lender has come to overshadow the play’s central story, the romance of Bassanio and Portia. As Pierre Lasry’s hourlong documentary shows, conceptions of Shylock have evolved significantly since the Elizabethan period, when Jews were banned from Britain. Shakespeare probably never met a Jew, but the issue of usury was not hypothetical to him. The playwright (or whoever you think wrote Shakespeare’s work) set Merchant in exotic Venice, yet, despite the Christian proscription against the practice, there were money lenders in Elizabethan England. In fact, Shakespeare’s father was a leading lender in Stratford-Upon-Avon, and his son apparently collected a little interest himself. In the wake of the Holocaust, the film notes, some people think Merchant should never be staged again, while others have restaged it. (One production was a play-within-a-play set at Auschwitz, with a Nazi officer acting Shylock.) This documentary includes performance clips of Orson Welles, Dustin Hoffman, and others—but not reactionary Catholic Mel Gibson, who used the “If you prick us…” speech for his own purposes in 1993’s The Man Without a Face. After the screening, Folger Elizabethan Theatre actress and dramaturge Cam Magee and Theater J Artistic Director Ari Roth will discuss some of the issues it raises. The program begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 25, at the District of Columbia Jewish Community Center’s Goldman Theater, 1529 16th St. NW. $9. (202) 777-3248. (Mark Jenkins)