62 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 1-895636-12-4
DDC 812'.54





Reviewed by David E. Kemp

David E. Kemp, a former professor of drama at Queen’s University, is
the author of The Pleasures and Treasures of the United Kingdom.


Mark Leiren-Young is an award-winning playwright, performer, political
satirist, screenwriter, and freelance journalist. Shylock, which won
second prize in the 1994 Canadian One Act Playwriting Competition,
concerns a Jewish actor who finds himself condemned by his own community
for his portrayal of Shakespeare’s controversial Jew. This
condemnation allows the playwright to examine such questions as the
alleged anti-Semitism in The Merchant of Venice, the nature of art, and
the responsibilities of the artist.

If any play is likely to promote a lively post-performance discussion
among an audience, it is this one. The Merchant of Venice has always
provided a catalyst for fierce debates about censorship, political
correctness, and the even more vexed question as to whether certain
plays are suitable for contemporary production. Leiren-Young’s
protagonist is such a vital figure that the play transcends the format
of a lively and imaginative lecture and becomes a living piece of

The book includes an excellent introduction in which the playwright
explains the creative process that led to the writing of Shylock; a
thoughtful essay, by Errol Durbach of UBC’s Theatre Program, comparing
Shylock with The Merchant of Venice; a director’s preface by John
Juliani; and a fascinating record of all the times in which The Merchant
of Venice has been censored, banned, or bowdlerized. Shylock is a
theatrical and intellectual feast.


Leiren-Young, Mark., “Shylock,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024,