Academic journal article Shakespeare Bulletin

Othello

Academic journal article Shakespeare Bulletin

Othello

Article excerpt

Presented by the American Globe Theatre, New York, New York. November 6-December 6, 2003. Directed by John Basil. Set by Vincent A. Masterpaul Costumes by Jim Parks. Lighting by Mark Hankla. Music and Sound by Scott O'Brien. Fight Choreography by Justin Lewis. With Patrick Rameau (Othello), Kathryn Savannah (Desdemona), Bob Armstrong (Priest, Duke, Soldier, Gratiano), Richard Fay (Iago), Graham Stevens (Roderigo), Peter Von Berg (Brabantio), Scott Asti (Clown, Soldier, Lodovico), Michael Colby Jones (Cassio), Justin Lewis (Senator, Montano), Julia Levo (Emilia), and Pilialoha Nathanial (Bianca).

In the American Globe Theatre's production of Othello, the aria-like quality of the speeches seems especially strong, with actors working together to turn dialogues into duets. Rather than address psychological subtleties, the focus of this production is on the play's action and the sheer musicality of the verse. Othello speaks his lines beautifully, but during his scenes alone with Desdemona, the play fulfills its most opera-like quality. Part of this effect comes from the fast pacing, but even stripped down to the bare essentials, the play's characters seem fully formed. Iago addresses the audience directly and devises his plot against Othello as he speaks out loud. But his hatred of the Moor is not presented as a complex psycho-sexual dilemma. This Iago simply hates.

Iago makes no real attempt to charm the audience. He saves that for the other characters, who possibly mistake his lack of manners for honesty. Roderigo and Cassio seem to agree with Iago's assessment of women. When Iago pours on the sexual imagery outside Brabantio's house, telling Desdemona's father that his daughter and the Moor are making "the beast with two backs," Roderigo enjoys Iago's "profane" language, instead of recoiling in fear and embarrassment as sometimes happens in other productions. Similarly, when Iago speaks badly of women in 2.1, awaiting Othello's arrival at Cypress, Cassio agrees with his sentiments. And near the beginning of 1.3, Cassio responds positively to Iago's references to Desdemona's sexuality--as when Iago calls her "full of game." In other productions, Cassio does not always enjoy hearing the "divine" Desdemona spoken of this way. …

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