New york - There's a new Shylock in town, but only for a short while.

Theatre For A New Audience is presenting their previously acclaimed "The Merchant of Venice," directed by Darko Tresnjak, for a two-week run ending March 13 at off-Broadway's Schimmel Center at Pace University.

The "other" recent production, rather a big hit on Broadway, featured an actor named Al Pacino but no cell phones.

Academy Award-winner F. Murray Abraham stars commandingly as the complex, cold-hearted Jewish moneylender in this modern-day telling of William Shakespeare's story of religious persecution, hypocrisy and greed interwoven with a romantic comedy.

Tresnjak's intelligent production takes a tongue-in-cheek, modern approach while keeping the courtroom dramas appropriately dark and serious. Exchanges both humorous and grim are made, involving money, marital vows and rings, power and loyalty. There are big winners and losers, just like any modern stock market.

Abraham's Shylock is powerful, dignified and classy, until he starts eagerly wielding his penknife in the courtroom scene. Abraham strongly conveys Shylock's sense of persecution and unbending righteous convictions, without over-emoting. For instance, he speaks calmly but glares fiercely in court as he stubbornly insists upon his literal pound of flesh from merchant Antonio for repayment of a debt.

Hearing the casual anti-Semitism and name-calling frequently directed toward Shylock by nearly every character in the play is even more discomforting in Tresnjak's modern setting. When Shylock's yarmulke is torn off after he loses the court case, and he slinks off in whimpering humiliation, there is some telling symbolism with the cruelly discarded cap.

The Venetian financial market is cool and steely, thanks to John Lee Beatty's clean, industrial set design and Linda Cho's sleek costumes. The smug male financiers wear 21st-century business suits; the women are attired in stylish, contemporary outfits and high heels.

Modern technology is wittily integrated: several characters use cell phones or cordless headsets, projections of computerized stock market quotes flicker on screens above the financiers, and laptops are used as the customary three caskets considered by heiress Portia's hopeful suitors. No quaint 16th-century touches here; Bassanio's possible bisexuality is signaled rather strongly.

Kate MacCluggage is spirited and winning as strong-willed heiress Portia, giddily girlish when expressing her love for Bassanio (agreeably played by Lucas Hall) and completely compelling when, disguised as a man in the courtroom, she delivers the play's best-known speech, "The quality of mercy..." with rising intensity.

Her waiting-woman Nerissa is charmingly portrayed by Christen Simon Marabate. Melissa Miller's sweetly haunted Jessica, Shylock's tragic daughter, rounds out the female roles.

Antonio is skillfully played with alternating sorrowful gravity and casual arrogance by Tom Nelis, and Ted Schneider gives a memorably droll, clownish personality to Gratiano. All the supporting cast members admirably fill their roles, in this richly nuanced production that fluidly conveys Shakespeare's original poetic spirit.