September 7, 2006 |
It began as an independent project by Temple University students; now, the production of Naomi Wallace's commanding Obie winner, One Flea Spare, is a full-fledged Live Arts / Philly Fringe piece. Not even the awful acoustics of Temple's Randall Theater could drown out Wallace's rich and realistic dialogue about class, mortality and sexual repression when four people are quarantined in London during the Black Death epidemic of 1665. Tomorrow, the production moves to a church, with perhaps better sound, then back to Randall next week.
February 25, 2015 |
I will never, ever stop being amazed by the endless directorial interpretations of Othello . I've lost count of how many I've seen, but Curio Theatre Company's new production, directed by Dan Hodge, is the latest, and once again, it teases out new (to me) angles in Shakespeare's 400-year-old script. Here, Hodge, with the help of Brian McCann, presents the lighter side of Iago. Far from the Machiavellian sociopath we've come to know and loathe, McCann's Iago is a frustrated, low-level schemer, little better than poor, doomed Roderigo (Paul Kuhn)
December 29, 1995 |
Maybe it's time to reconsider Othello's rank as one of Shakespeare's most compelling tragic heroes. The man's tragic flaw was not his jealousy, the green-eyed monster that leads him to kill Desdemona. No, Othello's real tragic flaw is his gullibility. He's credulous, easily manipulated and apparently not too bright - the Baby Huey of Shakespeare. That makes him an easy mark for a wicked operator like Iago, really the only interesting character in the play, which is undoubtedly why Kenneth Branagh snapped up the part for this new version, featuring Laurence Fishburne as the Moor of Venice.
March 26, 2007 |
In Hamlet, Shakespeare tells us that "the play's the thing," and he could be referencing Carmen Khan's peeled-back production of Othello, which opened the Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival's 10th season Friday night. The scenery is four large flat-topped trucks. A simple stage-rear entry is black. Everyone's dressed in a dull form of standard modern, more or less. So a sort of naked focus turns your attention almost entirely to the play. I saw a preview Thursday, and during the first half-hour or so, that focus was a liability; this Othello was stilted, with all the hoo-hah surrounding the Moor of Venice threatening to represent the bore of Venice.
October 15, 2012 |
Women in Shakespeare's day weren't allowed to perform on stage. In Quintessence's production of the Bard's Othello , director Alexander Burns won't let them play, either. At first glance, it seems an odd choice. The central plot revolves around Iago (Josh Carpenter), an ensign passed over for promotion by his Moorish general, Othello (Khris Davis), in favor of pretty-boy academic Cassio (Daniel Fredrick). Othello's marriage to the fair Desdemona (an excellent Ross Bennett Hurwitz)
December 29, 1995 |
As he spins his web of treachery and murder in Othello, Iago holds up his dagger, which catches the blurred image of his despised rival Cassio reflected on the flat of the blade. The moment aptly mirrors a sharply honed and visually provocative approach to Shakespeare's most intimate tragedy. Director Oliver Parker has cut the text of Othello to the bone, and the gain in propulsive power makes a strong case for his argument that less is Moor. This radically pared reading of the play discards about half the text in the name of making an unabashedly cinematic, supercharged and erotic presentation of Othello.
October 9, 2002 |
In the rogues' gallery of Shakespeare's villains, Iago stands apart. When measured against such unredeemed and unconscionable vileness, Richard III comes across as merely ambitious and Lady Macbeth seems a veritable Mother Teresa. Iago not only oversees the action of Othello. He can quite easily overwhelm it with his manipulation and malice, and he presents a director and his cast with both a problem of balance and an opportunity. For, as Harold Bloom remarks in Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, this is "Othello's tragedy but Iago's play.
October 15, 2004 |
Stage Beauty is set in Restoration-era London when, in the theater at least, men were men - and women, too. Observing a ban in effect since the ancient Greeks, the English barred the fair sex from the boards. Males played females, even Desdemona and Juliet. Richard Eyre's backstage story about the last man and the first woman to play Desdemona on the London stage boasts excellent actors, a good story, and no particular point. Call it Shakespeare in Drag. Billy Crudup is the androgynous Ned Kynaston, last of the female impersonators, celebrated by diarist Samuel Pepys as "the loveliest woman on the English stage.
October 5, 2010 |
Some operas demand to be heard despite their extraordinary risk factor. Bellini's Norma is one, Verdi's Otello is another, both standing like peaks to be climbed if only because they are there. Though Opera Company of Philadelphia fares better in its current Otello than in past seasons with Norma , Otello still requires faith - or at least it did at its Friday Academy of Music opening. Producing an Aida -size opera in the current economy is bound to involve corner cutting, and that was immediately apparent in the refurbished Paul Shortt-designed production dating back to director Robert B. Driver's past life with the Indianapolis and Syracuse opera companies (and a reminder of Driver's less-distinguished early Philadelphia years)
March 9, 2014 |
The last time choreographer Doug Elkins appeared in Philadelphia five years ago, he brought his hit "Fraulein Maria," a delightful frolic. The two frothy pieces he offers for the Dance Celebration Series, presented by Dance Affiliates and the Annenberg Center, are not as fully fleshed, but have an audience-pleasing frivolity and terrific performers. From his new pick-up company, Doug Elkins Choreography Etc., come "Mo(or)town/Redux" and "Hapless Bizarre," which opened Thursday. In "Hapless Bizarre" (a title I'm unable to decipher)