Antonio’s best friend, Bassanio, is in love with Portia, a wise and wealthy heiress, and needs three thousand ducats to press his suit. With Antonio’s wealth tied up in ships at sea, he approaches Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, who agrees to lend the money under the provision that Antonio shall forfeit a pound of his flesh if the debt is unpaid. When Antonio’s ships become wrecked, Shylock, the maligned Jew, calls for the debt to be settled. The Merchant of Venice is one of Shakespeare’s most famous comedies, celebrated for its captivating villain, Shylock. In a production full of contrasts and ambiguities, Warren Mitchell plays the moneylender with a finely balanced combination of wickedness and pathos – leaving the audience to decide whether he is a villain, a buffoon or a tragic hero.