My Stage is the World

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practise to deceive

I am not what I am

on November 6, 2016

Review of Othello at Above the Gatehouse 

O, beware, my lord of jealousy; 
It is the green-ey’d monster, which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.

Jealousy, betrayal and misguided trust can only lead to tragedy. In Othello, Shakespeare weaves a web of lies and deceit that inevitably result in a bloody denouement.

As with all of Shakespearean plays, they have been done ‘to death’ yet still there are new ways to interpret the text. Once again Arrows and Traps have used music, interpretative dance and a modernised setting to create a spellbinding version of Othello

A minimalist setting focuses the eye on the bedroom, where we see the newlyweds progress from a state of blissful happiness to one of anger and fear. Spencer Lee Osborne’s imposing but naïve Othello nicely complements Pippa Caddick’s innocent yet feisty Desdemona. Their initial love is apparent, their chemistry believable; as we see it dissolve into tragedy the two actors are mesmerising.

Pearce Sampson is a ruthless Iago, the chip on his shoulder apparent from the start as he connives and plots the demise of his enemies. Cowed by his character, Cornelia Baumann plays Emilia quite mouselike to begin with but this makes her final scene all the more dramatic and shocking.

The interpretative dance to Chris Isaac’s Wicked Game is fantastic as it comes just at the moment when the audience is at its most vulnerable, surprising them into unknown surrealism that is extremely effective. While this does perhaps lesser the dramatics of the remaining scenes, Caddick and Baumann are to be commended for their performances which are very realistic.

Considering this is one of Shakespeare’s tragedies, Arrows and Traps have created an extremely enjoyable production, which is one of the best versions of Othello I have ever seen.

4*

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