Ever wondered where the term, the ‘Green Eyed Monster’ originated from? Well it’s argued that Shakespeare coined the phrase in one of his greatest tragedies, Othello. A term associated with a strong feeling of jealousy, the phrase perfectly summarises the disastrous rise and fall of a once respected figure within society who finds himself torn between a web of lies spun by his ‘trustworthy’ best friend and the love of his life, whom he fears has committed an act of infidelity.
Reimagined by the bold and imaginative theatre company Frantic Assembly, the famed tale of race, class, power and jealousy finds itself located in the microcosmic world of an unassuming pub as games of pool simmer into games of power and drinking games slowly spiral out of control into drunken brawls. Scott Graham‘s youthful interpretation of the production brings an otherwise ancient and regal world into the 21st century, as titles such as Lord and Lady, General and Left Tenant are merely bandied around with not much emphasis placed on them. Title merely becomes secondary to the characters at hand. Hybrid‘s invigorating soundtrack sets the heart racing. An obstacle course of jarring and clashing sounds offers a narrative irony alerting the audience of the destruction and downfall that lays ahead.
Mark Ebulue‘s Othello dominates most in his moments of rage. Kirsty Oswald‘s Desdemona exhibits an autonomy resonant of a young 21st century female brought up on the streets of Manchester. Steven Miller‘s Iago initially appears unassuming, exchanges with his foolish sidekick, Roderigo played by Richard James Neale, appear light hearted, too playful to the point that Iago’s scheming feels trivial. Miller however embraces the role and by the play’s conclusion, embodies the machiavellian traits of perhaps one of the greatest villains created. Ryan Fletcher‘s down to earth Cassio vies for his tattered reputation to be repaired. His downfall imaginatively captured by Eddie Kay‘s impressive movement direction as Laura Hopkin‘s ingenius pub inspired stage design folds, shakes and disappears, depicting a drunken Cassio’s unbalanced perspective at that moment in time. Choreographic sequences awaken the audiences senses, breaking up scenes of speech with dramatic tableaux’s and ensemble routines. What the production lacks in dramatic tension and characterisation, it most certainly makes up for in aesthetics and choreography. 3.5/5
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
Othello is currently showing at the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre until Saturday 7th February. For more information on the production, visit here…