Theatre: Othello  

Review by Peter King

Shakespeare’s tale of black vengeance was given a musical twist in this strings and ropes production by the Icarus Theatre Collective – and the players fiddled as Othello burned.

A breathtaking nautical set decked out with white boards and ever-burning lights in nets of hempen tackle provided a fitting platform for Iago (David Martin) to pull the strings of the muscular moor (Gary Stoner) as his downward spiral into the storms of jealousy was played out.

In a small cast Alice Bonifacio (Bianca, Montano and the Duke) was commanding, and David Sayers (Roderigo and Lodovico) demonstrated the versatility needed to step into contrasting shoes.

Intelligent blocking and lighting combined with imaginative touches, such as the split screen effect produced by the splicing of the fight between Roderigo and Cassio and the melodic Desdemona (Holly Piper) settling into her bed of death.

There was music for every emotion, but it was tempting to cry, ‘Put up your violins!’ – and the quartet was at its best when tucked away playing mood music in an unobtrusive corner.

In the first half much of the exposition was lost, including the vulgarity of ‘honest Iago’ and the racial abuse hurled at the ‘noble moor’ – and it seemed that the cutting had been done not wisely but too well.

However, the true horror and pity shone through in the final acts when the music began to fade and the magic of the poetry triumphed as the text was allowed to speak for itself.

The tour of Othello continues at national venues.