"Othello" sheds new light on Iago

Sept. 26, 2005, midnight | By Henry Loeb | 15 years, 3 months ago

Title character takes second to fabulous Iago

The Shakespeare Theatre Company's production of the tragedy "Othello," running from August 30 to October 30, stars the charismatic Avery Brooks in the title role as the manipulated and magnificent Moor and Patrick Page as Othello's brilliantly sinister aide. Making a facile transition from his television work in "Spenser for Hire" and "A Man Called Hawk," Brooks's resonant delivery fills the space and commands the audience's rapt attention. The rest of the cast gives commendable and comparable performances.

The plot of "Othello" is full of twists and turns. Othello elopes with the beautiful Desdemona (Colleen Delany) only to be sent to Cyprus to fight the Turks. Upon arriving in Cyprus, Othello is tricked by the "trustworthy" Iago (Patrick Page) into believing that his wife is having an affair with his lieutenant, Cassio (Gregory Wooddell).

After Othello finds Cassio with Desdemona's handkerchief, he falls into such a rage that he kills her. Only then does Iago's wife reveal that the vengeful Iago had contrived the scheme. Upon hearing this, Othello kills himself.

Shakespeare's tragedy "Othello" is full of snares and twists, but it also as the occasional comic relief to lighten the mood. Whenever Iago is mentioned it almost always followed by the description "trustworthy" or "honest," causing the audience to laugh for they know of Iago's true intentions.

To do justice to a superb play, superb actors are required. Brooks's Othello, and Page's Iago both deliver. Brooks's melodious voice draws the audience into the action and then sustains the energy throughout. As the foil to Othello, the sinister yet "trustworthy" Page deals out both wit and malevolence. Erik Steele, as Roderigo, brings dynamism to his role as he transforms from a rich popinjay to a swaggering knave, willing to even kill to achieve his goals.

The entire cast is resplendent in evocative costumes; however, there is more leather on stage than in a biker bar. Most of the characters are in the military so they are garbed totally in combat leather. Othello even has leather wristbands to accompany his leather suit. Meanwhile, the nobles and the ladies are dressed in outfits of velvet and silk.

The set is plain in comparison. A half-circle of solid wood provides the backdrop of the set. Within it are situated three windows and two doors that, along with the two wing entrances/exits, allow for the entrances and exits of the actors. However, this sparse backdrop has hidden within it two arms that can extend to close off part of the stage in order to distinguish between interior and exterior scenes.

Along with the sparse set are very few props. They include a bed for Desdemona, several tables, a dozen chairs, lanterns, torches and several mugs for drinking. Because of its Spartan set, the play relies on its superior acting to bring out its true magnificence.

Othello is truly a fantastic play and a must-see for all. This is play which parents and teens can truly enjoy together.

"Othello" will be playing until October 30 at the Shakespeare Theatre. For additional information visit the theatre's web site.

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Henry Loeb. Henry Loeb is a teen who would like nothing better than to play X-box all day long. He is a little obsessed when it comes to Halo 2 and Fable but he doesn't let that get in the way of his writing abilities. In the … More »

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