Friday, September 27, 2013

'Othello' by William Shakespeare

27 September 2013

On Thursday we were part of an audience of more than 100,000, in cinemas across the world, to watch a live broadcast from the National Theatre in London of Nicholas Hytner's production of Shakespeare's 'Othello'. This latest NT Live broadcast demonstrated the growing popularity of live screenings of theatre: at Cineworld in Milton Keynes, where we watched the performance, it was being shown simultaneously on three screens, each of which was almost sold out. Hytner's production sets the play in a contemporary military base which could be in Iraq or Afghanistan. The prosaic background of the soldiers' quarters made the action feel more real and the violence was particularly shocking. The scene in the gents toilets, with Othello hiding in a cubicle to overhear Iago and Cassio, was especially effective. 'Othello' is very much a two-hander and both the lead performances here were fantastic. Adrian Lester showed Othello's power and vulnerability in a wonderfully physical performance and Rory Kinnear's Iago was twitchy, shifty, sinister and incredibly funny. Olivia Vinnall was great as a tiny but powerful Desdemona whose despair towards the end of the play was palpable. Watching the production on the big screen showed every minute facial expression as the cameras kept close to the action in a series of small, claustrophobic rooms and it is so satisfying to be able to hear every word of the text so clearly. 

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