Went to see a Shakespeare in the Park version of Othello last night. The atmosphere was great – you could either sit on the ground, or bring your own lawn chairs. Everyone around had bottles of wine, picnic lunches. Very civilized.
I’m working on the latest “Shakespeare in a Hour” which is going to be Othello. Iago is one nasty guy! Every time I do one of these adaptations I’m just simply amazed at the wonder that is Shakespeare. I don’t know if there was a guy named Shakespeare and he’s responsible, or if it was someone else, or there was a whole group that wrote. But my god it’s some wonderful writing. Gives me even more reason to try and get teens to not only read but perform the works.
The Iago we saw was great. Very restrained, funny, and most importantly, made Shakespeare seem like ordinary English. He spoke it so well and so naturally.
The same cannot be said for Othello. He really seemed to like the sound of his own voice – very clipped, very artificially Shakespearean. And there’s always a point in Othello, right when Iago suggest that he thinks Desdemona ‘may’ be doing something with Cassio, where the wheat gets separated from the chaff: Yelly Othello, or not yelly Othello?
This moment is in the third act. If Othello starts yelling now, you know right away you’re in for another hour of yelling. That’s not good. It’s not good acting. It’s not entertaining, or dramatic in any way to listen to someone yell. Is Othello an emotional part? Certainly. Are there moments where he should tear the roof down? Of course. But man, a yelly Othello does nothing by make my ears hurt.
Oh well. The atmosphere was lovely and the stars were bright.