Rich Pickings on English Touring Theatre’s Othello
English Touring Theatre’s Othello is a co-production with Oxford Playhouse and Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory. It remains true to the Bard’s tale of prejudice discrimination and fear while also adding more modern touches.
Richard Twyman directs with clarity and precision in an ensemble that really pulls out all the stops to create an atmosphere of paranoia and panic. Victor Oshin in the title role plays a secret Muslim general facing Turkish invasion.
He is first seen in an Islamic wedding with the petite Desdemona played by Kitty Archer with naivete and submission. Othello is a complex and often disturbed character who lashes out at those he loves after cunning trickery surrounds him.
Paul McEwan’s Iago is suitably duplicitous and cynical, plotting Othello’s downfall right until the end. While Philip Correia as Cassio is brave and heroic and, unlike Iago, blameless in his relationships with both the Moor and his wife.
Matt Graham’s neon strip lighting is very effective and designer Georgia Lowe’s sparse set is occasionally furnished with modern-day props to give the play more accessibility and variety.
Composer and sound designer Giles Thomas’ contribution is sometimes subtle, at others intensely vibrant. As the production builds up to the climax of mass murder our intrigue is heightened and, even for those who know the text, is utterly believable and thrilling.
At this Lawrence Batley Theatre performance the younger members of the audience remained quiet as to hear a hushed whisper with only the odd wolf-whistle and chuckle to disturb the quiet.This is Shakespearean acting at the top of its game that with high production values makes for a most absorbing evening’s theatre.
Photo: Helen Murray