|"Tragedy at it's Most Brutal"|
by Eleni Young for remotegoat on 15/03/15
Waterloo East Theatre is a hidden gem of a theatre. Tucked away quietly in Brad Street, Othello is making some really big noise.
Director Pamela Schermann, has taken Othello out of Venice and into the city of London, where Iago’s quest for revenge and his desperation to get to the top, is played out in pinstripe suits and false smiles. Cut down from a cast of 13 to 5 is quite a brave decision to make, and in this case, it’s a decision that’s worked well. By keeping the cast minimal, the jealousy, deceit and hatred is heightened to the point where you could cut the atmosphere with a knife.
Iago cut’s to the chase by revealing his plan for Othello as the opening monologue to the production. As quick as this production is in getting straight to the action, it would have been useful to have had a bit more a back story to the characters. By getting thrown in to the action as soon as the lights go up doesn’t leave very much time, to be fully introduced to the characters which, is a bit of a shame. All we know is that Iago is seriously angry, and boy, is Othello going to know it.
As the production is so eager to throw the audience into the action, the bond between each character isn’t fully realised initially, it’s probably only around 15 minutes in that you really get a feel for each character. However, once you do get a feel for them, the chemistry between them is electric and completely believable. Iago, played by Trevor Murphy, is utterly despicable, the kind of man for whom the phrase ‘cloak and dagger’ was made for, envelopes the audience into his world of hate, with Othello at the centre. Othello, played by James Barnes, and Cassio, played by Denholm Spurr, are mere puppets in Iago’s world as he manipulates Othello into believing that Cassio is having an affair with Desdemona (Charlie Blackwood).
Without giving the ending away, Othello and Desdemona’s final scene is horrific, scary, morbid and mind blowingly beautiful in the most tragic way possible (this is a good thing). The chemistry between these two is so passionate, it’s almost on fire. The tension doesn’t end there as Emilia discovers Othello and when crying out, Iago enters the room. At this point, it would be very easy for the pace to drop, but Ella Duncan’s performance as Emilia is raw and brutally heart wrenching as she confronts Othello before being silenced by her husband and manipulator, Iago, bringing this scene to a new peak. As the production drew to a close, I did almost wonder if Desdemona and Emilia would actually get up for their bow, which they did thank goodness.
Time Zone Theatre’s retelling of Othello is brutal, fast paced and utterly relentless. At just over an hour and a half, this production will leave you open mouthed and completely aghast as you grip the edge of your seat.
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