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Othello – Mill Theatre – Review

Othello

Shakespeare’s Othello is currently being staged at the Mill Theatre, Dundrum, in an in-house production directed by Geoffrey O’Keeffe.

Shakepeare’s Othello is a proud man, renowned in the field of battle. The play charts his descent into the madness of unbridled jealousy as ‘trusty’ Iago whispers poison in Othello’s ear regarding his young wife, Desdemona. Jealousy is also Iago’s main force, as he fears his wife and Othello have been lovers. Iago then determines to destroy Othello with jealousy and suspicion too. Jealousy begins to cast its rancorous, green tinge over many characters in this play, as Iago pulls the strings to bring about his revenge culminating in the ultimate ruin of Othello, ‘the Moor’.

In a play such as Othello, emotions are primeval and raw, simmering just below the surface of acceptability, until they rush up to release in a tragic denouement. While this production boasts competent and experienced performers, it never quite realises that rawness and driving motivation the drama requires.

Experiencing this production, this reviewer wanted the director to have pushed his cast just a little bit further. Iago (Robert Fawsitt) at times sounds almost casual in his approach to masterminding his plan, as opposed to a focussed force of white hot hate. Othello (Steve Hartland) has impressive stage presence but lacks the nuances necessary to fully realise the general’s character. It could also be said the play is about misplaced trust, and therefore as much about Iago and Othello as Othello and his wife.

In this production, we never see such a bond between Othello and Iago, something which should make Iago’s betrayal all the more despicable. Three performances stand out as hitting the mark, that of Desdemona (Siobhan Cullen) and her servant, Emilia (Nicola McEvilly) and Brabantio (Steve Curran), all seem at ease with the language, rhythms and the whirlpool of emotions behind Shakespeare’s words. This lends such scenes as the Willow Song scene and earlier, Desdemona’s revelation she has indeed married Othello, a particular poignancy and pathos.

Keith Hanna, Brian Molloy, Declan Brennan, Sinead O’Donovan and Pat O’Grady complete an experienced and sound cast. Overall production values were good with interesting costume design by Sinead Roberts-was Othello’s costume intended to look court-jesterish? The set was minimal, which is always to be admired in staging Shakespeare and the lighting, by Kris Mooney, effectively executed. However, I was confused by some of the actors being in shadow at certain times, for example in one of Desdemona and Cassio’s scenes, Desdemona was shadowed throughout. Perhaps this was part of the design. Sound effects and additional atmospheric music by Declan Brennan were in timely place.

The auditorium at the Mil was packed with the general public and secondary school students (excellently behaved) alike. The Mill Theatre produce a Shakespeare play each year, apparently. Based on this experience, this reviewer would be keen to see more.

Shakespeare’s Othello is currently being staged at the Mill Theatre, Dundrum until Oct 24th.

Review by Ashley Delaney

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