Othello

Tue 19th – Sat 23rd May 2015

reviews

Megan Dunne

at 02:00 on 20th May 2015

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I came away from Othello genuinely impressed. I feel that often with Shakespeare, the actors and production team have to make up for possible lapses in understanding and translation with strong and vivid features outside of the script, and this was certainly achieved. The modern, military-based set was structured well, with urban scaffolding used as a climbing frame and vantage point for the actors, and netted camouflage draped for more underhanded operations. The main part of the stage was barren save for necessary props, which allowed the focus to be drawn to the actors. The costumes were minimalistic and well-executed for the most part (though there were some questionable pieces, mainly in the party scene, such as Othello's platform sandals and Iago's strangely sagging jumpsuit), in fitting with the set. Small touches of the modern, such as Emilia's pyjamas and MacBook, and the use of smartphones, were flawlessly integrated. The lighting and sound design were together one of my favourite features of the play. The harsh orange light and pounding music of the pre-interval and ultimate scenes, combined with the superb acting in these moments, made me catch my breath. Speaking of acting, the actors were immensely satisfying; even those with smaller parts such as Bea Svistunenko and Toby Marlow, supported the show beautifully. Laura Waldren's performance as Iago is without a doubt one of the best I've seen in Cambridge. Her Iago is natural, dynamic and chilling. I found my eye drawn to her even while other actors were in the spotlight. Waldren seemed never to make an unnatural or awkward move - every action, pause and tone was executed perfectly. Likewise, Aoife Kennan as Emilia was simply lovely. She kept the sweetness of her character consistent, and was utterly heartbreaking in the final scene. Jack Parham was the largest source of amusement in the play, with excellent comedic timing, and his comedic chemistry with Waldren was clearly an audience favourite. For such a difficult role to play, given that much of Othello's speech is predictable by the audience due to our being privy to the other characters' plans, Lola Olufemi carried it off well, and exemplified the merit of gender-bending. However, at times she seemed unsure of herself on the stage and slightly unnatural - I felt as though I could see her thinking out her actions as she made them. At certain points her anguish was a little overacted, and her screams of agony and anger often elicited more cringing than sympathy from the audience - although, of course, this may be a deliberate directorial choice. With a little more power, subtlety and self-confidence, I am certain she can shine in the role. Overall, Othello is definitely worth seeing, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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