For over four hundred years, in every country where Shakespeare's plays have been performed, The Merchant of Venice has aroused controversy and excitement. This edition is the first to offer a comprehensive account of the Merchant in performance. Charles Edelman's introduction challenges many of the myths and preconceptions associated with the play, and shows how historical events and cultural attitudes have shaped actors' interpretations and audience responses. The commentary, printed alongside the text, describes how different actors, directors and designers have approached each character and episode on stage, film and television, from the first performances in the 1590s to the present day. The extraordinary variety of The Merchant of Venice in production will give every reader new and different insights into one of Shakespeare's most powerful but troubling plays.