Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Theatre Review: Othello

Where: The National Theatre, Southbank centre

When: until the 5th of October 2013

Who: Adrian Lester as Othello, Jonathan Bailey as Cassio, Rory Kinnear as Iago, Olivia Vinall as Desdemona.

My own judgement of the play: Perhaps I should start by mentioning a key factor in my liking or disliking of the play, that that I thought we were going to see the classical version of 'Othello' at the Globe. If, like me, you expect to see the historically accurate version, the National Theatre one is not for you. If you prefer modern adaptations, maybe give it a go.
I shall start with the positives because otherwise it will seem like a very negative review when in fact it's one of an average rating. The sets were incredible! It must have been hard designing it in such a way that would allow so many combinations : pub scenes, army base, army office, bedroom etc etc. The music in between set changes was actually quite good - mostly because it gave you a little nudge if your eyelids were feeling heavy. The props were also interesting; considering it's set in modern days, seeing a sword duel would be quite unlikely so guns were used.

However, having said that, am I the only one who finds it a bit unnerving seeing a set akin to The Hurt Locker meets Zero Dark Thirty paired with Shakespearean language?! If you're going to go all modern on us, why not make it more convincing by also adapting the language? 

As a bit of a warning, I highly recommend reading the book or a synopsis before going to see the play. I would imagine it helps massively. It's also painfully long, especially the second part where they just don't die easily. It takes about 10 minutes per character to die, I mean come on, put them (and us) out of the misery here. All in all, it lasted for about 3 hours give or take.

As far as actors are concerned, I actually preferred Lyndsey Marshal as Emilia and William Chubb as Brabantio for their convincing and powerful performances. I quite disliked how Iago was played, especially with the cockney accent - don't even get me started. 

To put all this information together, I couldn't say I liked it mainly because it was a modern setting. Whilst I appreciate the creative input on adapting the story, I would have personally benefited more from a traditional rendition of the play, as it was meant to be. Although jealousy, betrayal and evil are things to be seen in any century, perhaps it's the Shakespearean aura that makes it compelling.

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