“Beware the green-eyed monster…”
But seriously, it does bad things to you, as seen in Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello. Last night, we saw a wonderful production of this play at the National Theatre. All I have to say after is…holy oh my Lord.
This production was set in a modern-day military environment in what looked like a Middle-Eastern country (after leaving Venice, of course). Like I mentioned before, I’m usually wary of modern-day settings for Shakespeare productions because of the almost inevitable clash between the setting and language. A prime example is the infamous 1996 Romeo & Juliet starring Leo DiCaprio. Even though we all know what a terrible production that was–seriously, if you have never seen it, don’t waste your time–once I’ve seen that, it’s difficult for me to be optimistic about Shakespeare in “newer” environments.
(Side note: ever notice how Leo ends up in water in quite a few of his films? And either dies or comes close to death in said water?)
In short, this production blew my mind. It even got me to like Desdemona for a few short minutes, and if you know me and how I usually feel about her character, you know that’s a pretty huge accomplishment. The actor in Iago’s role (Rory Kinnear) was absolutely on point, as was Othello (Adrian Lester). You could just see the evil in Iago’s eyes when he gave his long speeches.
(Side note: I read in a pamphlet at the theatre that Kinnear had also appeared in a National Theatre production of ‘Hamlet.’ I could totally see him as Polonius. He’d have that down pat.)
Strangely enough, the character I found myself disliking the most last night was Roderigo. I didn’t have much of an opinion on him when I read the play in class, except that he seemed kind of stupid and gullible for going along with Iago’s plans. But in last night’s show, he had one scene in act 1 in which he fell to the floor and cried like a teenage girl about Desdemona marrying Othello.
“I will incontinently drown myself. … It is silliness to live when to live is torment, and then we have a prescription to die when death is our physician. … I confess it is my shame to be so fond, but it is not in my virtue to amend it.” (Roderigo, act 1, scene 3)
Those lines don’t seem too melodramatic when you just read them to yourself, but when the actor melts down and falls to the stage floor crying and talking of drowning himself…I actually kind of laughed. I think I was supposed to feel sorry for him in this scene, but I can’t say I really did. And I didn’t really have any pity for him when he met his death in the end, either.
Speaking of death (what a transition)…the main death scene in Othello is quite different from many other Shakespearean death scenes. Othello smothers Desdemona with a pillow instead of killing her by other, bloodier means, as per Shakespeare’s usual death routine. The fight between the couple before the murder was heart-wrenching and perfectly done. I actually could not bear to watch the entire scene; I covered my eyes until I heard Othello say that she was dead. And I have no shame in admitting that I shed a tear or two (or five or ten) during that scene. Just…wow. So well done.
None of the plays we’ve seen so far got standing ovations at the end…not even War Horse. Othello got a standing ovation, and an extremely well-deserved one, at that. It’s the morning after, and I’m still trying to process the play in its entirety. That might take a while…
But for now, that wraps up this week’s theatre review. In a couple hours, I will be catching a train to Cambridge to visit with Josh and Seb and their family. See y’all soon!
And before I do that, two shout-outs to two very special people in my life…
Happy 21st Birthdays to two of my best friends who I cannot go a day without, even when I’m abroad: Kevin (today) and Jordan (Sunday)! Thank you for being the wonderful people you are, and celebration is in order when we return to Blacksburg, for sure.
|But seriously, this photo actually defines our friendship.|
|Her first photo with the Hokie Bird!|
Happy Birthday!!! And until next week…cheers!