Sunday, June 27, 2010

Othello

As with Shrew, I had not seen a stage performance of Othello. I knew I would be in for a treat. In the pre-show we were treated to some more excellent music from Johnston & Harrell (they should start a band), along with the great musical talents of Jeremiah Davis. I also want to thank Ben Curns for turning me on to The Devil Makes Three and he delivered again with their song "Do Wrong Right." You also get a nice rendition of "Helter Skelter" during one of the interludes. The pre-show funnies kicked off with James Keegan and apprentice Paul Jannise. Jannise was hilarious in this little skit (he was also quite good in both Shrew and Othello) that spoofs our over reliance on Wikipedia. 


Once the show started we get to see Curns work his magic as the evil Iago. I'm a huge fan of Ben, and I love seeing him play the bad guy. He does so with a delicious, mischievous grin. I've always been drawn to the bad guys, all the way back to Star Wars and pro wrestling as a kid, and Iago and Richard III are my two favorite characters. I've now seen Ben play both of them. Anyone that saw Curns as Mephistopheles in Doctor Faustus knew they would be in for a treat when seeing him as Iago. Curns succeeds in making you feel empathy for Iago as a wronged man, almost an anti-hero. Certainly, you never forget that he is evil to the core, but you can sympathize with him as a bitter, wronged man. His interactions with John Harrell's lovesick & seasick Roderigo are masterful. Harrell is terrific as Roderigo. Harrell can pretty much get a laugh out of the crowd by looking at them and his pained, sick expressions are great. He can sell just about anything and at one point he really looked like he was going to vomit from sea sickness. 


René Thornton, Jr. is always a powerful performer who puts his heart and soul into every performance. His descent into madness in Othello ranks with his awesome performance in Faustus and as the defiant Aaron in Titus Andronicus. Thornton is the most intense performer in the company and anytime he is cast in a role of such power you can rest assured you are in for a clinic. While it was hot outside and under the lights, René and Ben worked up such a sweat it made for an even more intense effect. There is no better combination in the company than Ben playing the foil to René. I've seen it in several productions and love it every time (sorry, René, I said I loved the bad guy). 


Sarah Fallon, of course, is excellent as the falsely accused Desdemona. Sarah really makes you feel sorry for Desdemona. Sarah is so good in every role it's almost hard to praise her. I've never seen her do anything that wasn't four star work. She and Thornton always have a great chemistry and play off each other exceptionally well. 


Allison Glenzer as Iago's scorned and betrayed wife Emilia is fantastic, perhaps the best performance from her that I've seen. Glenzer always turns in a top notch performance, but this one seemed so powerful, so emotive. She is a very versatile actor and it's great seeing her in a role like this.


Other standouts are Ginna Hoben as Bianca & The Clown. Of course, Ginna is excellent as a clown (she plays a mean wind instrument), but she's really great as the unrequited lover of newcomer Patrick Midgley's Cassio. Midgely is wonderful as Cassio and is quite the dramatic actor. James Keegan, a master of the stage, is great in any role. He does a tremendous job as Brabantio and you really feel for him in the opening act. 


I'll definitely be seeing Othello again and I encourage you to see it at least once. You'll be glad you did.  
Ben Curns, Sarah Fallon, and René Thornton, Jr. in Othello. Photo by Michael Bailey.

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