Independent Theatre’s production of Othello at the Star Theatre was in very good hands as the Director Rob Croser has honed his craft with this his 120th directing of shows for this august group of talented performers. Added to this is David Roach who was also a founding member and on stage in this production as Brabintino and Montano.
The plot is relatively simple. A black Moor, Othello, is a general in the army in Venice. He falls In love with Desdemona the daughter of a wealthy politician. This causes jealousy from another suiter and upsets others through lack of promotion. Through a series of lies thrust upon him Othello is convinced his wife has been unfaithful and kills her. He then finds out the truth and kills himself. To get from the start to the conclusion however is where the talents of the greatest playwright ever, Shakespeare, come to the fore.
The title of this play may well have been ‘Iago’ for this is the central character who schemes and lies to get what he wants. The portrayal of this character by Arran Beatie with his conniving is convincing. Unfortunately Arran had to step into this role at very short notice and needed a script in hand. This limited him to one hand gestures and some reduced eye contact. Considering the circumstances he faced, he managed the limitations well. This was opening night and I would like to see the final performance for comparison.
It would be hard to find a better actor than Shedrick Yarkpai to be Othello. His stage presence and sonorous controlled diction gave life to the character. His actions when coupled with his physique had the audience in awe.
The role of Desdemona was most capably performed by Eloise Quinn-Valentine. Her desperation when trying to convince Othello of her innocence was a feature. She was also able to show another of her talents with the short but memorable a cappella song just prior to her death. Her lady in waiting Emilia portrayed by Lyn Wilson shone with her scene when accusing her husband Iago of the lies and deceit that led to the deaths of Desdemona and Othello.
The two lieutenants Cassio played by Eddie Sims and Roderigo played by Jordan Rose were perfect innocent foils for the schemes of Iago. A feature beside their full-toned voices was their actions. One example was Roderigo’s disappointment when in the courtroom. It is true that sometimes actions speak louder than words.
There were no weak links in any of the cast. Suffice to say they all are Shakespeare favourites and enjoyed their individual roles.
The production crew with lighting by Luke Bartholomew, sets by Rob Croser and David Roach plus the relevant to the times wardrobe by Sandra Davis and Angela Doherty all added to the relevance of the play. The most informative printed program content gave a deep insight to various productions and other details of this over 400-year-old play.
This performance of Othello was certainly one that should not be missed.