We were leery about seeing Othello at SW Shakespeare. It is a tough play to do well and demands a very good cast and director. So we were pleasantly surprised by last weekend’s production.
The cast were generally quite good, able to speak the lines clearly and to project across the theatre. They were unfortunately constrained by their costumes. For some reason the play was set in mid 17th century.( If I had to guess a reason, it was probably because an adequate supply of costumes for that period were available at the right price.) Unfortunately, this meant large floppy hats with big feathers and jacket/capes slung over shoulders. The latter were made of some kind of vinyl, and were clearly stiff and heavy. Othello, who was quite good, looked so much better when he took his hat off and we could see his face and expressions. Played by Hope Brown, Othello managed the transition from noble lover into jealous maniac subtly and effectively. His strangulation of Desdemona was very realistic and caused gasps in the audience.
Iago, played by Jesse James Kamps, in this production was a charming and cheerful villain. His asides to the audience were generally more funny than sly and it was harder to accept his underlying hatred and treachery.
The only other cast member worthy of mention was Michael Bailey, who played Rodrigo. Funny and sympathetic.
The director made the right decision and had very limited scenery and props. A set of white drapes hung down at the back to permit exits and entrances from there as well as the sides. One large box on the stage became everything else, table, wall, and the fatal bed. Red lights at the height of the death scene made me think I was back in Stratford watching the Chris Abrahams production!
We now have high hopes for Comedy of Errors this Friday.