Writer: William Shakespeare
Director: Gemma Bodinetz
Reviewer: Tate James
The third installment of the Everyman Rep’s second season wages war on the stage in a subtle and contemporary revival of the bard’s Othello. With the leading players clad in present-day desert storm militia and their female counterparts sporting high street trends, the design aesthetic from the Everyman Team is chic and sleek, complimenting Director Gemma Bodinetz’s fluid and fast-paced production. Indeed, the interval arrived so quickly it didn’t feel as though we’d sat through over an hour of a tumultuous Shakespearean plot.
This is a tale of trust; bartered, misplaced and broken. In the intervening hands of Iago, the beautiful Desdemona is played from man to man until her untimely death at the hand of her jealous husband, Othello.
As the chief pot stirrer Iago, Patrick Brennan commands both the play’s narrative and the audience’s attention with an effortless grasp of the language and a firm hand as the driving force of the evening’s proceedings. His pairing with the comparatively limp Brabantio, played to great flamboyant effect by Paul Duckworth, provides much of the comedy, as Brabantio stows away within the military troop in order to get closer to the beloved yet unavailable Desdemona. Cerith Flinn’s masculine and athletic Cassio is a sight to behold with rippling abs and raucous energy, caught in the crossfire of Iago’s meddling. Emily Hughes certainly teases her love interests, but feels rather delicate and lacklustre as Desdemona when up against the forces of her male co-stars and in the arms of her husband Othello.
And what an Othello! Golda Rosheuvel excels in the title role. After a rather disjointed attempt to gender bend Shakespeare in the first Everyman Rep season, Rosheuvel’s performance shows how it should be done: it is not about twisting the material for the sake of a concept, but about making a choice and committing to in, and this female Othello is, without doubt, in charge.
Bodinetz has once again extended the auditorium seating across the fourth wall of the theatre to create another tale in the round, and sadly from a seat on this new additional side there is a consistent feeling of neglect as the majority of the action and staging is directed towards the rest of the audience, not least when certain scenes play from the balcony overhead. But this is a bold production, and its relevance and importance with lessons of trust, not least in high-ranking officials, feels stronger than ever.
Runs until Saturday 10th July as part of the repertory season | Image: Jonathan Keenan