Othello popped up on my friends list twice today,
I knew next to nothing about Othello before this, and the single point that jumped out at me, given my peculiar interests, is that apart from the first act the whole thing is set on Cyprus, a place where interethnic fault lines remain sufficiently sharply drawn to keep me in business. Of course, this is a fairly fantastical Cyprus, whose geography consists of a single port town with a castle, and which is close enough to Venice that the Venetians hear of a planned Turkish invasion in time to stop it. It is also a Cyprus with almost no indigenous population, the Venetian garrison supplying the bulk of the dramatis personæ. But I was struck by the coincidence.
Apart from the dubious Cypriot geography, the basic plot of Othello is almost the most believable so far. Iago has to be pretty smart to avoid detection, but even so his wife spots what he is up to in the end. Desdemona’s remarkable, if temporary, recovery from asphyxiation is the most counterfactual thing in the play. In good hands this should be an excellent character study of people behaving, and misbehaving, under stress.
Arkangel largely rise to the occasion, with Don Warrington excelling in the title role, and David Threlfall also excellent as Iago. (Tracy-Anne Obermann, who like Don Warrington has been killed by Cybermen in Doctor Who, plays Bianca.) The music is particularly well chosen – a rather fifteenth-century feel to it, with Desdemona’s song especially memorable. One of the good ones.
Henry VI, Part I | Henry VI, Part II | Henry VI, Part III | Richard III | Comedy of Errors | Titus Andronicus | Taming of the Shrew | Two Gentlemen of Verona | Love’s Labour’s Lost | Romeo and Juliet | Richard II | A Midsummer Night’s Dream | King John | The Merchant of Venice | Henry IV, Part I | Henry IV, Part II | Henry V | Julius Caesar | Much Ado About Nothing | As You Like It | Merry Wives of Windsor | Hamlet | Twelfth Night | Troilus and Cressida | All’s Well That Ends Well | Measure for Measure | Othello | King Lear | Macbeth | Antony and Cleopatra | Coriolanus | Timon of Athens | Pericles | Cymbeline | The Winter’s Tale | The Tempest | Henry VIII | The Two Noble Kinsmen | Edward III | Sir Thomas More (fragment)