“This really was a polished production that was satisfying to watch and charming to listen to and provided a very valuable contribution to Theatre Severn’s drama programme.”
Chris Eldon Lee review of ‘Othello’ at Shrewsbury’s Theatre Severn
Icarus Theatre Company’s ‘Othello’ is a clear, concise and user-friendly edit of Shakespeare’s original…. presented with pace, authority and lashings of music.
I don’t recall a string sextet in The Bard’s text, but actually it all meshed together rather well. The characters came and went carrying their instruments. And with a little imagination, the bows became swords and the violins almost resembled man bags.
At first it seemed slightly odd – and there were moments of excess – but having Shakespearean characters underscoring their own soliloquies brought additional colour and texture to the words.
The memorable melodies bridged the gaps in the text and the pizzicato playing added impish humour to the scheming. It left me wondering whether all 16th century Venetians carried violins….which might just explain Vivaldi’s subsequent success.
Gary Stoner’s Othello has the power of an oak (and a slight woodeness in his quiet passages). Once roused, though, he flares like a forest fire and his bare chest and dreadlocks (it had to happen) are very striking as he stalks the stage.
David Martin played his ancient, Iago, as a ‘Mister Reasonable’ – with a very short agenda. The manipulation of Othello was there for all to see, though he might have allowed himself to make more of his audience confidentials.
Holly Piper’s Desdemona was quite a modern miss – with the head movements of a truculent teenager. Director Max Lewendel has cleverly juxtaposed her boudoir scenes with the attack on Cassio which makes the treachery all the more sinister and her preparation of her own death bed all the more melancholy.
Indeed the production – with a cast of just eight – was craftily plotted and satisfying executed. Sheets and slats created ships, salons and senate houses with minimal fuss and complete conviction. And by paring away the extremities of the play, the fatal handkerchief that seals Desdemona’s demise was clearly exposed as exhibit A.
This really was a polished production that was satisfying to watch and charming to listen to and provided a very valuable contribution to Theatre Severn’s drama programme.
Read original review here.