Directed by Emily Morrison
Pros: Gorgeous costumes, inspired direction and world class acting.
Cons: Not much to report here. A few of the actors didn’t quite hold my attention but this is only a minor dent in a truly dazzling show.
Our Verdict: A stunning feat of wholly engaging entertainment with highly creative directing and two astonishing central performances. This came dangerously close to a 5 star review.
|Courtesy of Emanate Theatre Company
Whoever calls the shots at the White Bear
should be applauded. Perhaps I’ve just been lucky here but every show I’ve seen at this theatre has ranged from very good to excellent which is not something that can be said for every fringe venue in London. Othello
from Emanate Theatre Company is by far the best show I’ve seen to date at the White Bear. It brims with nervous energy and draws you in to its very core. Perhaps most importantly, all of these characters have a strong connection and a long and complex history with one another. This kind of chemistry between actors is essential to the success of any show but it is particularly alive and pulsating in this sumptuous production.
From the very beginning I felt fully involved in the scenes. The actors are completely absorbed in the world they have created and there is a lively and truthful dynamic between all of them. Each actor has a solid grasp on the language and the dialogue is delivered with a deep understanding of Shakespeare’s intentions. Emma Kirrage is exactly how I imagine Emilia to be and delivers a lovely performance while looking magnificent in her various costumes. Although Tom Van Der Klugt is laughably too young to be the father of a grown woman like Desdemona, I can’t find any fault with his characterisation which is both excellent and in complete contrast to the other characters he portrays. As Montano he has a charming rapport with the other men, particularly Cassio played by a truly mesmerising Patrick Oldham and Ludovico (a note-perfect performance from Stephen Adams). The banter between them trips lightly off the tongue and this impeccable command of the language made their relationship truthful and engaging. Of all the many Cassios I’ve seen on stage over the years, both in major theatres and on the fringe, Patrick Oldham is by far my favourite. First of all, he has a terrific period look and secondly, his Cassio is a very real man with a thousand contrasting thoughts which adds great depth to his stage presence. Similarly, Tom Lewis is compelling as Rodrigo and more than holds his own in this excellent cast. Another element worth mentioning is the fight scenes which looked genuinely perilous rather than the choreographed, dance-like sword-fights I’m used to seeing.
Much as I could talk at length about the great supporting cast, this show really belongs to two people. Firstly, Kingsley Amadi who had a tough job taking on the role of Othello. Like Hamlet and Macbeth, we all think we know who this man is and have seen the character portrayed ad nauseum in countless productions. Amadi is an extraordinary actor with oodles of charisma and his ability to flip personality and justify his growing rage with such honesty and integrity is mightily impressive. There wasn’t one single moment when I wasn’t fully engaged in the truth of his performance and good heavens does he look good in uniform. This last detail adds to his relationship with Desdemona with whom he has a sparkling chemistry. There is no doubt as to why she would swoon at his every word and why she would choose him above any other suitor.
My favourite character in this production is, perhaps oddly, the rather disgraceful Iago. It was here that actor George Jauncey did a very naughty thing to us poor audience members. He crashed through the fourth wall, sat down beside us and forced us to become scheming accomplices in his terrible plans. He asked us questions as individuals and reacted to our imagined replies like we had given him the idea to ruin these people’s lives on stage. He manages to do this so effectively that I felt genuinely guilty every time Othello or anyone else arrived on stage. Jauncey is a scene stealer of epic proportions and his world-class performance is worth the ticket price alone.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comment section below!
Othello runs at the White Bear Theatre until 24th February 2013.