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Othello Theatre Review

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Review of "Othello" by Frantic Assembly Play: "Othello" by William Shakespeare Performance Company: Frantic Assembly Date: Thursday 23rd October 2008 Venue: Nutfield Theatre, Southampton Set in a pub caught at the frontier of the racial tension in West Yorkshire in 2001, Frantic Assembly's "Othello" took an original Shakespearean play and reinvented it for a modern audience whilst still keeping the authenticity of the original text. The majority of the performance was set in a public house with the main focus of the stage on a pool table surrounded by various tables and chairs as seen in the diagram below. The table was on wheels allowing it to be easily maneuvered on and off stage between scenes. The walls were not fixed in one position and could 'fold' and 'sway' when needed. This was used to great effect in one scene where Othello, portrayed by Jimmy Akingbola, commits suicide. The walls concaved around the actor, creating a strong feeling of claustrophobia within the audience. ...read more.


An example of this would be the scene in which Iago (Charles Aitken) murders a defenseless Michael Cassio (Jami Reid-Quarrel) in a dark back alley. This is the only scene set away from the public house but still uses the majority of the same set. The stage designers created a distinction between the two locations by painting the background for the alley on the reverse side of the public house walls. As previously mentioned these walls were semi-rigid and could be moved and spun to create new acting areas and this was used to great effect within this scene. The strong disparity between the brightly painted walls of the public house and the murky gloom of a Yorkshire alley made the audience feel a slight sense of unease before anything had even happened. I also felt that the set was incredibly convincing, due in part to many props being taken straight out of a public house: a transportable pool table at centre stage and a fully-functioning fruit machine front stage right. ...read more.


One scene in which this became particularly clear was the scene where Iago attempts to plant the handkerchief on Michael Cassio during the dance. The music began very light and orchestral whilst the actors performed a baroque dance composition and slowly developed into something far grittier and faster paced. The dance progressed evenly with the music and showed how the play was authentic and loyal to the original text whilst still contemporary enough for a modern audience to follow and relate to. Overall, in my opinion, the music was perfectly suited for the performance and provided a faultless sonic setting for the play. In conclusion, I feel that Frantic Assembly succeeded in their aim to reinvent the play for the audience of today whilst still keeping true to the text. The modernisation of the setting of the play not only made it more enjoyable but also far easier to understand and relate to. The play was not flawless however, an over use of fake blood towards the end of the play, turned otherwise serious death scenes into something quite comical and farcical. Word Count: 887 ?? ?? ?? ?? Sam Kimish ...read more.

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