Bit from London: OTHELLO

by Lynn on July 7, 2013

in The Passionate Playgoer

July 6, 2013, Matinee

At the Olivier Theatre, National Theatre, London.  Written by WHO ELSE???? Directed by Nicholas Hytner. Designed by Vicki Mortimer. Lighting by Jon Clark. Music by Nick Powell. Sound by Gareth Fry. Starring: Johnathan Bailey, Rory Kinnear, Rokhsaneh Ghawam-Shahidi, Adrian Lester, Lyndsey Marshal, Olivia Vinall.

Thrilling!!! A gut-wrenching production. Beautifully directed by Nicholas Hytner. Smart; so well thought out; strongly acted in every single way.

We are in the macho world of the military but both Iago’s wife Emilia and Othello’s wife Desdemona are there in the barracks. In fact Emilia seems to be in the military too as she is always in fatigues. Desdemona as played by Olivia Vinall is not a shrinking violet. She is a sparky woman, who wears jeans, sweats, and sleek pants. She is a toucher. She touches her father to win him over, touching his face, shirt, sleeve etc. She of course touches Othello and he returns the affection before he becomes insane with jealousy. He is delighted to have married her. He kisses his ring to express his joy.

At the jealousy, so beautifully planted by Iago in a stunning performance by Rory Kinnear, Othello is sick with the knowledge. He wipes his face with water from the tap in the barracks washroom; throws up in the toilet; faints. All the while Iago works on him. As Othello, Adrian Lester is poised, confident, strong, princely, and dangerous.

Why does Iago do this? Because he’s a jumble of insecurities and petty hates. He was passed over for promotion by a Florentine (the word is spat out) Iago as a kind of racist only he has it in for anyone he thinks thinks are better than he is. In both cases, with Lester as Othello and Kinnear as Iago, they are so well matched, the subtleties so delicately dropped that we are riveted and blown away at the same time with the discoveries.

As for Emilia, Iago’s wife, Lyndsey Marshal is fierce, conflicted with having to do her husband’s bidding but knowing he’s up to know good. It’s a tough, believable performance.

Vickie Mortimer’s military set is large with sliding walls and set pieces that move on and off at various locations in the barracks.

The production will be broadcast in NT Live in the near future. Don’t you dare miss it.

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