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Othello

National theatre

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#91 Pharaoh's number 2

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 02:18 PM

Before it started, I was thinking, oh god, another of these Shakespeares set in a dark and drab part of London, in a pub etc. And for the first 15 minutes or so, it sort of is. But then as soon as we shift to Cyprus, and Vicki Mortimer's set opens up and rooms roll to the front of the stage like tanks, it takes flight and becomes one of the most thrilling productions of any Shakespeare play I've seen.

Nicholas Hytner has managed to make the play startlingly clear. It rockets along, despite running at 3hr15, every scene has a specific location, it's a real thriller. Often I sit there and have to play catch up, working out some of the relationships, thinking about the speech just past, meaning I don't focus on the next one. None of that here. It could've been written yesterday. And I'm not sure if I could watch a 'traditional' production now.

Rory Kinnear gets better every time I see him. You understood why Othello would trust him, for at times, I, too, believed what Iago was saying. The play really revolves around him, but I don't agree with Michael Billington who says that the production restrains Othello himself. Lester is outstanding- when he enters in the first scene, he has an Obama like swagger. But his descent into the pain and ultimately, I think, evil, is devastating to watch. Olivia Vinall's Desdemona has a lovely touch of naivety, and I was mightily impressed with Lyndsey Marshall's Emilia.

So, I loved it. Thousands times better than Jamie Lloyd's recent attempt to update Macbeth.



#92 Coated peanut

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 05:53 PM

I seem to be in the minority on this Othello, and generally feel that Kinnear is much better at farce than Shakespeare.

Overall it felt like an Othello for the service industry. There was no power to the play, and no real sense of betrayal. The sequence of actions was clear enough, but I really didn't feel that squaddies with handkerchiefs were a revelation, or believable. The female roles really don't work in a hyper realistic setting, since that level of demure servility just doesn't translate unless the play is about domestic violence of a long term abused partner, why on earth would a soldier lady serve as a maid-type character to a slightly elevated squaddie's civilian wife, etc, etc

To me, the play was about a fairly snivelling Iago who wasn't interesting or complex enough to hold my interest. It would still be nice to see Adrian Lester in Othello one day....

By the time time Cassio was told that he now rules Cyprus, I couldn't help thinking that Cyprus would have him for breakfast.

#93 Lynette

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Posted 02 May 2013 - 10:49 PM

Wowa, peanut, I couldn't disagree more.
I loved it, every second. I thought for once the contemporary setting worked and for once the moving bits of stage worked to good purpose. I think the scenes between the two men in the office and then in the toilet were probably the best I've ever seen them done. Lester and Kinnear both at the top of their game and the supporting all excellent. I think Hytner got it right and trusted his actors [with some superb direction of tricky text] and they were all singing from the same song sheet with gusto. [ Unlike recent RSC shows where one or two of the actors are in  different productions from the rest! ]
Loved, loved it, loved it.
It was packed out but one or two no shows would indicate you could get last minute if you risked it.
Two phones went off, stopped fast thank goodness, in last scene. One couple arrived late and let in despite talking on stage.

#94 Coated peanut

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 09:09 AM

Heh, hence my comment about going to be in a tiny tiny minority ;)

#95 Lynette

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 09:22 AM

We are enriched by our differences.. :D

#96 armadillo

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Posted 03 May 2013 - 01:35 PM

I would have liked it a lot more had it been an hour shorter.

#97 Lynette

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Posted 05 May 2013 - 02:44 PM

I've booked again for a Sunday afternoon in August.

#98 Avfan

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Posted 06 May 2013 - 07:32 PM

Has anyone queued for day seats for this? Might try on Saturday, any Idea what time I would need to get there?

#99 peggs

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 10:55 AM

Didn't quite make it to outstanding but a solid very good with some outstanding moments. Rory was good as ever though I think I found him more threatening in burnt by the sun, but as mentioned before someone you would believe, he's got that apparently normal trustworthy guy down pat. My first time seeing Adrian Lester and he didn't disappoint, kept imagining how he would have done his Henry V that i missed ten years ago. Liked the modern setting, the music, the noise!

Having seen the donmar's version some years back I couldn't help but compare it, although clearly very different productions. For me this Cassio didn't work, he was too wet, I couldn't believe he could be left in charge of Cyprus and failed to see why Othello would have picked him over Iago unless it was because he wore a better jacket. Afterwards Latecomer and i agreed that unlike the donmar version where we were pretty much annoyed with Desdemona throughout most of the play until she nailed the last scene i though Olivia Vinall was strong all the way threw and was a bit disappointed by her last scene, but it may have been that I was waiting for Lyndsey Marshall's Emilia to come storming back on stage, I love this character and thought she was superb.

and to report yes we had latecomers let in the front row of all places in middle of first scene, much laughter at bits that really couldn't see how they were funny, rather annoying audience at time and now lots more blood! Well quite enough for me anyway.

#100 mallardo

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 03:17 PM

Re the laughter - and to be fair to the audience - Rory Kinnear, with his droll delivery, does play many of his asides for laughs - and he's a genuinely funny guy.  He and Roderigo were virtually a comedy team.
Excuse me if I seem jejune
I promise I'll find my marbles soon.





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