I have wanted to see Dion Johnstone play Othello for several years, a wish made even stronger by his great performance as Aaron the Moor in Titus Andronicus. It was worth the wait. Not only Johnstone, but the rest of the cast gave brilliant performances under the strong direction of Chris Abraham. Bethany Jillard was a strong and loving Desdemona. Graham Abbey as Iago made us hate him, even when we were snickering at his remarks. Mike Shara as Rodrigo got even more laughs. His bumbling love sick character, so easily manipulated by Iago, provided some necessary relief from the tension that grips this play. But even with the moments of humour, this play is still a tragedy and this production never forgets that.
The audience was mesmerized from the opening notes that revealed the stunning stage design. People barely breathed, they were so focused on what was happening on the stage. This is what happens when Shakespeare is done well – the audience forgets that it is Shakespeare, and gets drawn into the play.
having been to see Taking Shakespeare earlier in the month, I was more aware of the role of Amelia than I normally would have been. Deborah Hay gave her usual strong performance in this role.
This was a truly great evening of theatre. We walked home in silence, too stunned to talk.


About cathyriggall

Theatre junkie, who thinks live theatre is the ultimate form of living on the edge. You never know what will happen when an actor steps on the stage.
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One Response to Othello

  1. keithhpotter says:

    It is amazing to realize Abraham had not done Shakespeare before. He had a really sure hand with this production. It was hard to believe it took three hours – the pace seemed much faster – and the clarity rivalled Cimolino’s productions.

    The cast and set, particularly the lighting (Michael Walton), were excellent. It will be interesting to compare it with the NTL production next month.

    I disagree with Cathy about the silences, though. During the play, there was laughing along with Abbey’s Iago, as he made us complicit in his treachery, and at Shara’s poor Roderigo. I hope we can look forward to Shara in Beaux’ Strategem or Hay Fever next year, and perhaps some more physical comedy beyond that – time for Charley’s Aunt?

    As to walking home, I was just tired.

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