Thursday, March 10, 2016

Play Review: Othello [SPOILERS]

*DISCLAIMER: I did nap through the majority of this production, so anything I write here should be taken with a large grain of salt.*

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I never read Othello in school, so I did make sure to brush on up my SparkNotes before seeing this play. It's basically about how the villain Iago manipulates and lies to people just to ruin the life of the Moor Othello (the reason for this hatred is debatable). There isn't much excitement in the story, mostly just talking, which can be boring (especially when Shakespearean English is so hard to understand!). It's not a very nice story, and you certainly don't feel good after watching it (or watching parts of it, as I did).

Here are the pros and cons of my evening experience.


1. Location: The Shakespeare Theatre Company performs at Sidney Harman Hall, which is right off of the Gallery Place/Chinatown metro stop near the Verizon Center, so the venue was very easy to get to! So at least I didn't have to worry about getting lost and such.

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2. The set: The set was sparse but interesting. There is an obvious military feel to it, with large fans in the back that would cast shadows during parts of the play. Metal barrels are scattered around the edge of the stage, and there was very little furniture/props. The lighting was the main star of the show, becoming increasingly dark during the saddest/darkest parts of the story.

3. The cast: This was quite a star-studded cast! Faran Tahir, who played Othello, was in movies like Elysium, Star Trek, and Iron Man, and was also on TV shows such as Criminal Minds, Elementary, Supernatural, Lost, and Grey's Anatomy. And Jonno Roberts, who played Iago, had a recurring role of the TV show Bones. How cool!


1. Effects: Sometimes the light was so bright that it reflected off of the metal stage, blinding the audience for several moments. And at one point soldiers started shooting their guns, which was so loud and jarring! And it wasn't just one or two shots: it was at least six! None of this added to the enjoyment of the play (and obviously disturbed my slumber!).

2. Costumes: It's not that the costumes were bad. But, I was sitting in the very last row, SO high up from the stage, that is was difficult to tell who was who when many of the men were wearing similar costumes (i.e. military uniforms). It would have been easier to understand if each character had his or her own distinguishable ensemble.

3. Plot: As mentioned, there isn't much of a story. It's just about mischievous Iago trying to cause trouble pretty much to the detriment of everyone else. He makes Othello believe that his wife Desdemona is cheating on him (when she isn't) and makes men hate each other over other lies. So there were lots of people talking (lying) to each other, an occasional fight broke out, and by the end several characters had been murdered. Lovely.

Again, I don't want to say that they did a bad job, because I know the actors and everyone else involved worked really hard to put this together. It just wasn't my taste, and I honestly don't regret missing the majority of it, even while sitting in the theater.

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