Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Othello @ Lyttelton Theatre “from a whisper to a scream missing fewer beats than a Bobby O remix.”

Last week Stuart and I went to see much-loved "Hamilton" star Giles Terera play Othello at the Lyttelton Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank.
This particular production is historic in that it marks the first time a black director (Clint Dyer) has staged the play at the National Theatre. So, our hopes were high.
Indeed, the whole production is purposefully and consciously exposing the normal white-gaze, with Terera the only person of colour in the cast, serving to emphasise the racism and jealousy that fuels the tragedy and Othello's isolation. An isolation felt by the character, and by the actor on stage.
Another good choice is the set - steps and terraces around the performance space, creating a look that is a cross between an ancient Greek theatre and a fighting pit.

The steps are peopled by an aggressive, all-white Greek chorus - or 'system' as they are described in the programme - which further helps drive the combative narrative of the racism rarely explored in some other productions of the play.
That said, Terara's Othello is a bit of a let-down. His fast-track to mental instability and anguish is just a little too fast. It doesn't take many whispered suggestions from Iago to get him to doubt Desdemona and for his behaviour to become utterly erratic and to descend into shouting and screeching. It is all a bit too quick - he goes from a whisper to a scream missing fewer beats than a Bobby O remix.
Sadly Paul Hilton's Iago is just a little too broad too. It would have been but a small step to have him mischiefly twiddling his moustache, rubbing his hands in glee, and giving us a 4th wall-breaking evil cackle to make him a full-on pantomime villain. Subtle it, ain't.
That said, we enjoyed the show. And it will no doubt pick up the pace as the run continues.
It is however not a patch on the sublime Adrian Lester / Rory Kinear masterpiece production in 2013 which for me is the award-winning gold standard.

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