The Last of the Dinosaurs

Othello, Olivier Theatre, 12 May 2013

The dark exterior of a three-storey London house loomed over the stage. A door opened and the forbidding structure, at least its ground floor, was revealed to house a cheerful bar. Off-duty squaddies stood by the doorway through which Roderigo pursued Iago into the street outside (1.1).

Rory Kinnear drew surlily on his cigarette, lager in hand, as he told of being passed over for promotion. In his portrayal of Iago, Kinnear just managed to skirt the right side of faux blokeishness, but it was clear that he was affecting a working class accent imperfectly.

Roderigo (Tom Robertson), played as an upper class buffoon, was more credible for being comical.

The visual, aural and social references located the production unmistakably in contemporary Britain.

The two men moved along the building to knock at the door of Brabantio (William Chubb), who appeared at an upper window. Roused by the news of Desdemona’s flight, he descended to ground level just after Iago slipped away into the darkness.

The outside of the building was transformed by an illuminated sign and an elegant rope barrier into the classy Sagittary (1.2). Othello (Adrian Lester) walked into the street accompanied by Iago who warned his superior officer about the angry Brabantio.

Othello looked dapper in his well-fitting suit, which together with his refined “well spoken” voice, clearly positioned him as Iago’s social superior. The production addressed in passing the class system of multi-racial Britain.

Iago asked Othello if he was married and the general replied by kissing his new wedding ring, proudly holding his hand aloft to show off its gold lustre.

Othello was summoned to attend the Duke, but the furious Brabantio caught up with him before he could depart. No swords or weapons were drawn.

The elderly Brabantio stood close, almost offering a physical challenge to Othello when he referred to his “sooty bosom”. This was overt, disparaging racism and not a dispassionate comment.

However, one of the other officers was also black and this significant detail demonstrated that Othello was not the only upwardly-mobile “Moor” in this “Venice”. His position as a black officer was therefore neither an unusual nor a tenuous one.

Brabantio’s final comment about “bond-slaves and pagans” was also directed venomously at Othello. But the headshaking disbelief of the others showed that Brabantio was the only one using these terms and that wider society had moved on from such attitudes.

The production made plain that Brabantio was isolated in his racism and his subsequent brooding showed that he knew full well that he was the last of the bigoted dinosaurs. Contemporary British society, we were being told, for all its faults aspires to be post-racist.

The stage left front of the house was removed and the “Venetian” council chamber rolled forward to show the Duke (Robert Demeger) and senators in conference at a large table (1.3). The character of the Sailor was represented as a woman in a business suit bringing a report.

Othello stood and received his orders while Iago stood on guard by the door just behind him. Brabantio sat in his privileged position at the table and recounted his daughter’s ‘theft’ in a sulky, defeated mood.

Othello spoke eloquently in his own defence while Brabantio cast his eyes down and looked away. Brabantio’s claim that Desdemona would not willingly fall in love “with what she feared to look on” again highlighted his prejudice. But his depressive sullenness indicated that he knew he was in a minority, essentially on a losing path. The Duke’s rebuke “To vouch this, is no proof” also demonstrated that Brabantio was not taken at his word.

Brabantio again stared downcast at the ground during Othello’s lengthy account of how he and Desdemona had fallen in love. Othello paused after “sold to slavery” before picking up “and my redemption thence” in a more upbeat tone to emphasise the emotive significance of that part of his life. His remarkable tale, with its charming description of Desdemona’s hint, again convinced the Duke.

Desdemona (Olivia Vinall) was brought in. She was pretty, slim, young and blonde, and the only incongruity in her relationship with Othello was the age gap. She looked like a very young adult while Othello was greying.

Desdemona sat next to her father Brabantio at the table, while Othello stood behind him. She held her father’s hands, consoling him as she explained the duty she now owed to her husband.

Othello agreed that Desdemona should accompany him to Cyprus but did not want the senate to think this wish was simply the product of his desires, which he downplayed as “the young affects in me defunct”, again hinting at his age.

The location changed to the street for the continuation of the scene, with Roderigo complaining that he would drown himself out of frustrated love for Desdemona. Iago recommended instead that he should put money in his purse. Roderigo’s claim that he would “sell all my land” was followed by a quizzical look as if he glimpsed the absurdity of his intention.

Iago borrowed some money from Roderigo so that his first soliloquy speech began with him holding a wad of Roderigo’s notes as he said “Thus do I ever make my fool my purse”.

He told us that he suspected Othello of sleeping with his wife, but given his recent duping of Roderigo, what credibility could be given to that claim. Were we his friends?

Iago devised his plan to trick Othello into thinking Cassio was carrying on with his wife. His habitual smoking, nowadays very much an indicator of low social status, added to Iago’s nefarious aura.

The stage opened out to show a military base on Cyprus, complete with blast walls, a gate, and tall wall-illuminating lights beyond (2.1). Soldiers entered and discussed the news of the Turkish fleet disaster, against the backdrop of a constant stream of new arrivals and equipment being carried in. A ship’s horn sounded and was described as the arriving vessel’s “shot of courtesy”.

Desdemona wore a large tag round her neck, identifying her as civilian. She wore a camouflage vest over her civilian clothing and bore a blue rucksack, which made her look semi-military. She had possibly chosen this to make her more soldierly to show sympathy with her husband, but the playfulness behind the approximation hinted at an immature lack of seriousness.

Iago’s wife Emilia (Lynsey Marshal) was also a soldier in this equal opportunity army. Roderigo was in civilian clothes and sported a large tag like Desdemona’s.

Cassio (Jonathan Bailey) beamed a smile and looked like a likely ladies man. He was already familiar with Desdemona and when they spoke together they did make a believable, similarly aged couple.

Iago was chippily jocular when Cassio kissed Emilia. He went into his mildly sexist routine, some of the more obscure bits of which were cut.

Cassio and Desdemona went upstage to wait for the imminent arrival of Othello. He high-fived her and this led into a more prolonged holding of hands. Iago turned towards us, delighted that they were providing him with fuel for his plot.

A helicopter sound heralded the entry of Othello. He threw his helmet to the ground before embracing Desdemona and called her “Honey” as Iago stood at the side watching.

Othello turned to Iago, who seemed to gesture at him, at which point Othello put on his beret and adopted a more military bearing. Othello’s subsequent stiff pronouncement, beginning “I prattle out of fashion, and I dot in mine own comforts”, attempted to correct the unprofessionalism of his overt display of affection for his wife. The production thus added an extra instance of honest Iago doing his master a favour.

Iago assured Roderigo that Desdemona was in love with Cassio and would grow tired of Othello. He urged Roderigo to pick a quarrel with Cassio in order to provoke a fight that would ruin Cassio’s reputation.

To conclude, Iago engaged in another charmingly villainous soliloquy outlining his plan. Like the others, it lacked any overt display of anger, apart from a slight snarl when he said he would take revenge on Othello “wife for wife”.

This was realistic, because Iago’s plot required a great deal of poker-faced lying that boiling anger would render difficult. His plot was being conducted like a military operation, which can be full of violence without actual overt hatred for the target. It was possible to imagine him rationalising his actions in such terms.

Courtyard

The brief scene with the herald (2.2) was cut so that the play continued with 2.3 in the courtyard of base.

Othello’s comment to Cassio that Iago was “most honest” was exceedingly ironic.

Iago met Cassio after the others left. In their ensuing conversation everything that Iago said in praise of Desdemona with his nudges and winks seemed intended to engender a real desire in Cassio for Desdemona, possibly with the intention of making Iago’s plot superfluous.

Iago persuaded Cassio to join in the drinking. The front of mess room opened up to reveal its sparsely furnished interior decorated with girly pictures and full of revelling soldiers.

The drinking song culminated in a can of Efes pilsen being punctured in its side and given to Cassio to drink down as its pressurised contents sprayed out. This was a clever trick because it obliged Cassio to drink the whole lot.

Iago boasted about the drinking habits of the English, reinforcing the mood of debauchery. Cassio proposed a health to Othello, which Montano (Chook Sibtain) backed by producing a bottle of vodka saying “I’ll do you justice”. Cassio was now on spirits as well.

The rowdiness continued until drunken Cassio suddenly had an attack of conscience. He spoke slowly and deliberated about souls to be saved and not saved, while the others looked at him half smirking at his inebriated speech.

He collapsed backwards demanding that the others not think him drunk. Cassio’s lines about his left and right hand were changed slightly so that he held out his right hand and drunkenly referred to it as his left before correcting himself.

Iago took the opportunity to imply to Montano that Cassio was often drunk, and then instructed Roderigo to pursue Cassio and pick a fight.

Not long after, Cassio chased Roderigo back into the mess. Montano held Cassio back to which Cassio responded by beating Montano on the ground in a corner.

The alarm rang and Othello entered to see Cassio still on top of Montano attacking him. Cassio was pulled away and stood rigidly to attention as if the full implications of his actions had suddenly struck him. Montano was now bleeding profusely from his head.

Iago managed to report an accurate account of how the brawl had started, but obviously omitted his role in inciting Roderigo to begin it. His half-hearted defence of Cassio was wonderfully even-handed, causing Othello to think Iago was sticking up for the lieutenant. Othello dismissed Cassio by ripping his rank insignia from his epaulettes.

Desdemona briefly appeared and looked with concern at Cassio before being escorted away. Her solicitous look would help Iago’s plan.

Iago put on the kettle and made Cassio some instant coffee while affecting concern at his predicament. He made light of Cassio moans that he had lost his reputation. Moving his scheme forward, Iago suggested that Cassio get Desdemona to speak on his behalf.

Iago made himself a coffee, sat back and looked as us to ask “And what’s he then that says I play the villain?” Given that most of his statements contained a kernel of truth, his defence of himself had some validity, despite the fact that the villainy of his dealings could be seen once the full picture was in view.

Roderigo whined that he had been hit, that he had run out of money, and that Desdemona was still not his. Iago pointed out that patience was required and that Cassio’s dismissal had been a step forward.

Iago stepped out of the room to the side to outline to us the next stage in his plan, which involved Othello seeing Cassio and Desdemona together.

The musicians were cut, so that the next scene began with Cassio asking a female soldier (Clown) to tell Emilia that he wanted a word (3.1). Iago soon appeared and said he would send his wife out. Emilia assured Cassio that he would soon be restored to his former position.

Othello’s office rolled out from the stage right side. Two desks stood under fluorescent lights. A map of the Arabian peninsula hung on the wall. While Emilia stood on guard by the door, Desdemona assured Cassio that she would put in a word for him (3.3).

Emilia warned of Othello’s approach and both Cassio and Desdemona scurried out a side door just as Othello and Iago entered. Iago sat at his desk which faced away from Othello’s at right angles to it, so that his “Ha, I like not that” was said almost as an aside that Othello overheard.

Desdemona creeped back in through the side door, an entry that added to the furtiveness of the assignation with Cassio that she described. She approached Othello as he sat at his desk and leant over it, pestering him to call Cassio back. She eventually sat on the desk, almost in Othello’s lap, and donned his reading glasses in a playful attempt at persuasion.

Othello relented and looked at his paperwork requesting that she “leave me but a little to myself”.

Iago, who had faced away from the pair all the while concentrating on his laptop screen, set about sowing the seeds of doubt in Othello’s mind, asking questions and then denying their significance, echoing Othello to such an extent that it angered the general.

Othello stood and boasted of his immunity to petty, unfounded jealousy, but conceded that he would doubt Desdemona’s honesty if he saw proof.

Already the game had moved onto Iago’s territory, an advantage he capitalised on when he asked Othello to keep watching her when she was with Cassio. He pointed out the way Desdemona had deceived her father.

Iago even apologised for unnecessarily troubling Othello, which again reinforced the idea in Othello’s mind that he was troubled.

Othello’s former confidence was now replaced with a downcast expression.

In another turn of the screw, Iago pointed out that Desdemona had not married someone of the same rank and race as herself.

Iago again apologised for speaking out of turn but encouraged Othello not to reinstate Cassio and then watch how his wife pleaded the disgraced lieutenant’s case.

Othello’s soliloquy saw some self-hatred emerging when he sarcastically stressed the “black” in “Haply, for I am black…”

Emilia and Desdemona returned. Emilia resumed her guard at the door and Desdemona called Othello to dinner. Her husband complained of having a headache, prompting the solicitous Desdemona to draw her handkerchief, wet it and apply it to his head. Othello fussed and cast the handkerchief aside so that it fell to the ground directly in Emilia’s line of vision.

In view of its immense sentimental value, it seemed improbable that Othello would cast away this handkerchief and that Desdemona would not immediately pick it up. She had it with her as a treasured love token, but did not react when Othello threw it away. The only satisfying explanation was that she had been more concerned for her husband than for the token he had given her and had prioritised the one over the other.

Emilia picked up the handkerchief just before Iago entered and playfully held it aloft, teasing him with it until he took it from her. This was the only time that Iago displayed any desperation or weakness. That his desperation originated from Emilia was prescient in view of her role in his ultimate undoing.

But safe in possession of the token, Iago punched the air in victory and told us that he would leave it in Cassio’s room.

Othello returned to his office in some distress, but he was more eloquent and self-pitying than angry. This changed abruptly when he grabbed Iago by the throat and pressed him against the wall, threatening him with dire consequences if he “slander her and torture me”.

Perhaps feeling this powerful grip was what subsequently gave Iago the idea that Othello should strangle Desdemona.

Iago was shocked at this violence and had to compose himself and adjust his uniform before complaining that his “honesty” was not appreciated.

Othello’s doubt was supremely well expressed as Desdemona and Iago became in his mind like Schrödinger’s cat, existing as both honest and dishonest at the same time.

Iago taunted Othello with the impossibility of seeing the pair together, and described such a union in four different lurid ways, before inventing a story about Cassio making love to Desdemona in his sleep.

Having so far only wounded Othello with his insinuations and taunts, Iago now dropped a bombshell by mentioning that Cassio was in possession of Desdemona’s handkerchief.

Othello threw over his desk screaming that Cassio ought to have “forty thousand lives” because “one is too poor, too weak for my revenge”. This was the same desk that he had asked Desdemona to vacate earlier because of his pressing work. Now that work lay scattered on the floor.

But even at this moment of extreme anger, there was something noble and poetic in the way Othello clasped at his heart and squeezed its love into his shirt, which he then blew on to waft the extracted love upwards into the sky to mark its loss. “’Tis gone”, he sighed, as he watched his love symbolically depart from him.

Iago joined Othello to kneel on the ground to swear service in his revenge. Othello wanted Cassio dead within three days. Iago cleverly positioned himself as the merciful one, wanting Desdemona to be spared. This was probably a genuine wish, perhaps motivated by his previous admission that he found her attractive; this sentiment would also make sense of his devastation at Desdemona’s death at the end.

The first half ended with Othello swearing hatred against his wife, and Iago slinking off with a chilling “I am your own for ever.”

Interval

Soldiers gathered in the camp courtyard with a football and began a kick-about before the start of the second half. Desdemona entered and picked up the stray ball and scored a goal against the camp gate before asking one of the soldiers to fetch Cassio (3.4).

Othello was cold and abrupt when Desdemona greeted him. Seizing and examining her palm, he manically described its moist, hot fruitfulness. He asked her for her handkerchief and she produced a different one.

In his account of the history of the token, Othello bitterly accented each reference to it being given away “Or made gift of it… or give’t away”, the crime of which he suspected Desdemona. He turned away and could not look at her.

Cassio and Iago arrived after Othello left. Desdemona continued to assure Cassio, but said she was out of favour. Iago pointed out how odd that was.

Bianca (Rokhsaneh Ghawam-Shahidi) was let through the gate and met Cassio. He gave her Desdemona’s handkerchief, which he had found. Bianca was tartly indignant at being asked to copy it.

A washroom and toilets rolled out on the right side, which became the location of Iago’s continued provocation of Othello with lurid lies about Cassio and Desdemona kissing in private (4.1).

Iago hinted that Cassio had admitted to something, and manoeuvred Othello into making him divulge that Cassio had confessed to sleeping with her.

Othello banged his fists against the washroom mirrors, became sick and threw up into the bowl in one of the toilet cubicles. He recovered, but fell back against the wall and then collapsed in a full fit.

Iago delighted in seeing his “medicine” at work. Cassio briefly appeared but Iago sent him away.

As Othello lay on the ground, Iago got a glass and filled it with water from the washroom tap, despite a sign indicating that it was not drinking water.

Othello recovered but at first he did not take the proffered water, so Iago sipped from it instead. Eventually Othello stood up and did take the glass.

Iago told Othello that Cassio had passed by and that he would return. He asked Othello if he would hide in one of the cubicles to spy on their conversation.

As Othello hid, Iago told us how he would speak with Cassio about the “hussy” Bianca, but make the conversation seem to relate to Cassio’s dalliance with Desdemona.

The scheme worked as Cassio’s jolly, bawdy talk was wrongly interpreted by Othello, whose running commentary constituted a bad case of confirmation bias.

Bianca breezed in with the handkerchief and, describing it as “some minx’s token”, threw it aside so that it landed right in Othello’s line of sight. Cassio picked up the handkerchief, confirming its value to him, and followed Bianca out.

Having seen the “ocular proof”, Othello again bashed the mirrors as he angrily wished Cassio “nine years a-killing”. He beat his fist against his chest saying that his heart had turned to stone.

He swayed between anger and sadness before vowing to poison Desdemona. But Iago recommended strangling her and promised to kill Cassio himself.

The washroom drew back and the scene changed to the base courtyard. Othello and Iago met Lodovico (Nick Sampson) and Desdemona. Othello became annoyed at being ordered to leave Cyprus and coolly struck Desdemona when she spoke to him. She fell to the ground amid general consternation.

The false dawn of Othello calling Desdemona back in an apparent reconciliation, then revealing that he had only called her at Lodovico’s request, was quite chilling. This callous behaviour gave Iago more grounds to undermine him. Interestingly, this false dawn was echoed in the final scene.

The left side room rolled out to present Othello and Desdemona’s bedroom (4.2). This was bare basic accommodation: a smallish room with cheap looking furniture.

Othello was in the process of searching through Desdemona’s belongings, turning out all the drawers and cupboards looking for signs of infidelity. He tore at the bed clothes, sniffing the pillows for traces of Cassio’s scent. This made perfect sense of his opening question to Emilia “You have seen nothing then?”

Othello’s paranoid questioning of Emilia, who stood stiff and nervous, was paralleled by his fevered ransacking of the room.

Emilia fetched in Desdemona and was then sent away by Othello.

Desdemona crouched on the bed to plead her innocence in the face of Othello’s persistent accusations.

We could see that Othello’s feelings were still mixed between adoration and hatred. He smelt her and found her “so sweet that the sense aches at thee”, but then turned bitter and wished she had never been born.

A second false dawn occurred when, in face of Desdemona’s claims to innocence, Othello paused and said “I cry you mercy then”. The tension eased, but a moment later he turned to her and continued bitterly “I took you for that cunning whore…”

Othello called for Emilia and, as he left, threw money contemptuously at her as if she were Desdemona’s bawd.

Emilia fetched Iago whose studied ignorance of the cause of Desdemona’s troubles was a bravura display of his art. Emilia’s abusive description of the supposed slanderer was enjoyable for it being delivered almost in Iago’s face.

After Emilia and Desdemona had left, Iago stepped outside and met Roderigo. His comical complaints to Iago about his sufferings were a palette cleanser after the heaviness of the preceding tense encounters. But on a serious note, it provided Iago with an opportunity to tell Roderigo that killing Cassio would keep Othello, and thus Desdemona, in Cyprus. They agreed on their plan to attack Cassio later that night.

The scene changed to the base courtyard, where Emilia set out a chair and a can of beer, but then noticed the arrival of Othello, Lodovico and Desdemona (4.3).

Othello ordered Desdemona to get to bed. Emilia saw her approach and fetched another chair and a second can so that the women could have a chat.

Instead of being unpinned, Desdemona just took off her top to reveal a modest slip.

Desdemona sang the willow song, which struck a note of fragile calm in a dark world about to turn even more turbulent.

Emilia’s assertion that she would cuckold her husband “for all the world” exemplified her boldness, a trait that would be so crucial in the final scene.

Blast

Iago and Roderigo lay in wait for Cassio with the set reconfigured to show a different corner of the camp enclosed by blast walls (5.1). Iago spoke to us briefly to explain the tactical advantages of either Cassio’s or Roderigo’s death. Roderigo shot at Cassio with a handgun. Cassio returned fire hitting Roderigo.

Iago pointed his gun at Cassio whom he realised was still alive and then fled, leaving the two wounded men on the ground. Alarms began to ring and Othello, to his great satisfaction, discovered Cassio injured.

Iago returned and spoke to Cassio, who pointed at Roderigo as his assailant. Iago took advantage of the accusation to shoot Roderigo. Stretchers were brought for the dead and injured.

Bianca found Cassio and commiserated at his suffering. Iago held her back and pointed her out to the others as the root cause of the quarrel.

Desdemona was presented to us asleep in her bed, newly covered in the wedding sheets, with a single candle burning like a child’s night light on a low cupboard (5.2).

Othello crept into the room and gently closed the door, whispering “It is the cause, it is the cause”. His tenderness over her sleeping form was touching, but was undercut by his “Yet she must die”.

His speech over the candle was moving and he carried it with him as he crouched at the side of the bed to smell her “balmy breath”. Desdemona awoke and we saw that she was wearing blue panties and a t-shirt.

Othello’s casual mention of killing shocked Desdemona into a frightened defence of herself, as she expressed her disbelief at Othello’s stated intention.

Othello questioned her about the handkerchief, pulling and pushing her on the bed as she recoiled looking very vulnerable. He forced her down onto the bed and used two pillows to smother her until she stopped moving.

Emilia called from outside causing Othello a momentary distraction. Desdemona moaned as she revived. Othello quite casually clasped his hands around her neck and strangled her. Emilia called again and Othello debated aloud what to do about her, his hands still in place around Desdemona’s neck as he glanced backwards at the door.

There was something quite gruesome about Othello’s ability to multitask the murder in parallel with his considerations about the impatient Emilia.

He let Emilia in and she told him about Cassio killing Roderigo. But Emilia’s attention was soon drawn to Desdemona, stirring into life once more, who said she had been “falsely murdered”.

Desdemona stated cryptically that “Nobody. I myself” had killed her and then finally died. Othello sadly contradicted her assurance, but seemingly only to prove that Desdemona had yet again been dishonest.

Othello informed Emilia that her husband Iago had assured him of Desdemona’s infidelity, she responded in disbelief, eventually shouting for help and accusing Othello of the murder.

Montano, Gratiano (Jonathan Dryden Taylor) and Iago arrived rendering the small, cramped room very overcrowded. Othello simply stood stiffly in front of the bed with his hands behind his back.

Emilia’s angry questioning of Iago seemed to unnerve him slightly because he became increasingly insistent that she go home.

Seemingly without cause, Othello broke down and cried kneeling at the edge of the bed to speak of how “this act shows horrible and grim”. This abrupt transition from passivity to emotion looked odd.

Othello told of Cassio’s ‘confession’ and that his suspicions had been proved by seeing Cassio with Desdemona’s handkerchief. Emilia immediately knew that Othello was wrong and not even Iago’s desperate pleas could stop her telling the truth.

Emilia explained how she had found the handkerchief and given it to her husband, upon which the desperate Iago swore at her and shot her before fleeing. As she clutched at her bleeding stomach, Emilia asked to be laid by Desdemona’s side.

Montano pursued Iago and ordered Gratiano to stand guard outside with Othello’s gun.

After Emilia died, Othello searched his wardrobe, found his Spanish sword and called Gratiano back inside. Othello proudly displayed the blade, but his mind wandered from the lost glory represented by this sword, back to Desdemona’s cold body.

Cassio appeared wearing a leg brace along with the now handcuffed prisoner Iago. Othello struck Iago in the leg with his sword, which was then taken from him.

At this point, the poky budget hotel room began to look really crowded. The sequence should have been presented on a bigger scale at centre stage. The climactic grandeur of a scene written with a spacious chamber in mind was diminished by being crammed into a corner of the stage.

Iago refused to speak when Othello demanded an explanation. The letters found in Roderigo’s pockets proved the plot between him and Iago.

Lodovico stripped Othello of his duties and Othello’s long speech concluded with him drawing a small dagger from a pocket and stabbing himself.

Othello staggered towards Desdemona, kissing her before collapsing dead on top of her. Lodovico enjoined Iago to look upon “the tragic loading of this bed”.

After everyone else had departed, Iago rushed back into the room and looked agape in disbelief at the bodies of Othello, Emilia and Desdemona. The lights went down on this tableau.

The deliberate highlighting of Iago’s incredulity at the outcome of his plot, suggested he possessed a glimmer of conscience, which contradicted his earlier hard-line refusal to respond to questioning.

Conclusions

The production was almost flawless. Two minor quibbles only: the puzzling loss of the handkerchief, which was not dropped accidentally, but deliberately cast aside; and Othello’s strange behaviour right at the end, which was either a bizarre characterisation or something forced on the actor by the cramped confines of the space.

But perhaps the most memorable aspect of the production was the confident and assured manner in which it presented Brabantio, not as an exemplum of commonplace prejudice, but rather as an isolated and outmoded bigot.

Rather than hint at racial tension, the production deliberately accented differences of accent, comportment and dress between Iago and Othello.

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One thought on “The Last of the Dinosaurs

  1. His position as a black officer was therefore neither an unusual nor a tenuous one.

    I loved this part of the production – it was really impressive how the play worked so well even without the context of a racist society. Thanks for your review!

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