Fritz Leiber's production of the, "Merchant of Venice" at the Wilbur theatre last night was chiefly notable for its sympathetic portrayal of Shylock. At times he made the Jew into an almost kindly old father who was more often the object of good natured laughter rather than bitter scorn. The chief emphasis was much more on the Jewish side of the problem rather than the usual Chirstian one. This change which came near to turning, the play into a satire on Christianity was decidedly the most attractive and worth while feature of the performance.
In spite of Mr. Leiber's fresh and unconventional interpretation of the part of Shylock the rest of the cast did not render sufficient support to keep this production from becoming mediocre. The sets were by far the worst that have been' shown thus far. Bassanio, played by Hart Jenks gave the most satisfactory characterization excepting that of Mr. Leiber. Vera Allen did fairly well as Portia although she gave the "Quality of Mercy" in an attitude which suggested that she was trying to count the seats in the extreme rear of the balcony. Although the role of the Merchant was dwarfed more than usual, John Burke made the best of the opportunities offered him, particularly in the trial. The Casket scene was as effective as any.'
The first scene in the final act with its wealth of poetry was completely ruined by a catarrhal Lorenno and a super-soprano Jessica. However, with the injection of considerable life into a naturally lively conclusion the audience was allowed to leave with a pleasant impression. As usual, the Harvard "supers" were futile.