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Katie Brennan reviews Benji Bailey (director) and Adryon Kozel’s (producer) production of Othello, which went up in Venue 2 on the 12th-14th of February. 

A well-done, simple production, last week’s Othello had much to its credit. Set in Venue 2 with the stage set up runway-style (audience on both sides of the action), the production itself presented a strong cast, particularly the principals, led by First Year Ebe Bamgboye as Othello. In an especially impressive turn as a Shakespearean lead, Bamgboye proves that he has a lot to offer the St Andrews theatre scene. One of the only problems was to do with projection issues at some points, which meant some of Othello’s great lines were lost.

Tom Vanson as Iago was a stand-out, choosing to play Iago as a man from poorer origins than Cassio, who Othello has promoted above him. Iago has some of the best speeches in the entire play, and Vanson was more than capable of making them some of the most memorable moments of the show. His sidekick Roderigo (Jared Liebmiller) managed to provide elements of comic relief that the play requires. Charlotte Kelly as Desdemona made a huge impact on the audience even without her having all that much to say, and the scene between her and Emilia (Emily Hoyle) right before she is strangled was a beautifully done piece of acting by the two of them. Even the smaller roles had a strong grasp of character and dialogue, no small feat in a production of Shakespeare. Special mention should go to Baxter Gaston as Cassio, who played both aspects of the character —upstanding Florentine lieutenant and raging drunk— with aplomb.

The show itself was a commendable, solid production of Othello, although I had a few problems in terms of the way things were handled aesthetically. Set in Venue 2, the production benefitted immensely from the new space. However, a couple of strange choices made within the set struck me as odd. While it was quite a minimal production, at some points it didn’t feel quite minimal enough. Using Venue 2 tables and chairs is fine, but without any justification for it in the tech or costuming, it did feel like something of a last-minute decision. Costumes themselves were period, of a sort, though nothing definite enough to indicate a strong choice either way.  Music throughout was a lovely touch, including the tavern songs sung by the whole cast. Othello is one of my favorite plays, so watching it put on by such a cohesive, strong cast was a great experience. Well done to all involved.

 

Katie Brennan

 

Photo credit:

Original art: Alison Ann Woodward

Poster: Adryon Kozel