Theater Review: ‘Othello’ rendition worthy of bard’s approval
An almost bare stage is the first thing that captures the imagination of the audience, as one wonders just what the meaning of an ill-equipped performance of Shakespeare’s Othello, The Moor of Venice will be.
Progressively, viewers are exposed to the raw nature of the play’s arrangement, which offers a new look at the Shakespearean tragedy. The performers are thrust out onto the stage amid altering sets, costume changes and other things you would normally see behind the scenes. Nonetheless, the industrial set and leather-clad performers give the play a bleak tone that meshes with the devious central plot.
The first scene of the play takes us into the heart of a dispute between a father’s unwillingness to relinquish his daughter Desdemona, played by a convincing Elizabeth Bunch, to the principle player Othello (David Rainey) seeking her hand in marriage. In this opening sequence we see the sundry set of opinions regarding Othello that masks the entirety of the play.
Rainey’s fierce performance of the Moorish general brings to light the essence of Othello’s mixed persona. He shows the audience a man who is strong on the battlefield yet weak in heart. Winning a number of major battles for the Venetian Republic, his rise to prominence soon leads to a list of new enemies in the making.
Iago, brilliantly portrayed by James Black, plans an insidious coup d’etat that wreaks havoc on all of the principle players. His hatred for Othello has him seek out the assistance of several unwitting characters, playing each one of them against their fears in order to cleverly pursue his fiendish attempt to stop Othello’s political rise.
As the devilish scheme unravels, the general is rapidly stripped of his calm demeanor and his passion for Desdemona takes an ugly turn at the thought of her infidelity. Loyalties are tested, lies become truths and soon all are led on a downward spiral that culminates into an ending befitting of a Greek tragedy.
The play itself takes a while to pick up steam since the plot revolves around setting up the pieces for an inevitable collapse. Yet, once the scheme is under way the play snowballs into absolute calamity, captivating the audience to the very end. The strong cast and the visually stunning stage designs add to the mix of a very rewarding production.