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Othello, Lion and Unicorn Theatre

This production of Othello was previously reviewed by everything theatre during it’s short run at the White Bear Theatre. This second review was written independently of the first by a different member of our reviewing team.

William Shakespeare

Directed by Emily Morrison
Pros: Using a small theatre space well, this production shows the depth of all the characters and adds more than a little extra to any other performance I have ever seen of Othello.
Cons: One or two of the actors did not quite convince me when it came to showing strong emotions but other than that, I am not sure there were many cons.
Our Verdict: This production is perfect for lovers of Shakespeare and newbies alike and will bring a whole new dimension to some of the Bard’s best renowned characters.
Courtesy of Emanate Theatre
This small theatre in Kentish town really is a wonderful setting for Emanate Theatre’s production of Othello. Having arrived, enjoyed a drink and read my book in the picturesque setting of the Lion and Unicorn, I was quite comfortable and set for an evening of entertainment – and I was not disappointed.
When thrown into the middle of a family feud following the marriage of Desdomona to Othello and among a group of people who clearly have complicated relationships, the audience have a lot of history to catch up with before the action can begin. I often feel that, it can take some time to acclimatise to the language of the Bard, even for seasoned attendees, and I know that this puts many of my friends off. However, as this performance proves, with actors who understand the text fully this acclimatisation process can take just minutes, and you become quickly immersed in the drama. There was no shadow of a doubt that this theatre company and their Director, Emily Morrison, knew their stuff. Their interpretation of the conversations between one another and, in Iago’s case, the audience, flowed with ease and were as simple to understand as any modern day play, ensuring that there was no time lost before you knew exactly what was going on.
Anyone who has studied or seen Othello before knows the layers and complexities of the title character, his intense love for Desdomona, his anger at her perceived deceit and his jealousy, rage and confusion over who to trust. Anyone playing the title role therefore has a colossal mountain to climb to make it their own and ensure the audience understands and believes his fluctuating emotions. Kingsley Amadi did more than this in his portrayal of the lead role. His performance was astounding and should be applauded. Through his incredible and physical performance, not once did I feel that his Jekyll and Hyde changes in personality were not justified. He was clearly battling with his feelings and this was shown brilliantly. The ebb and flow in emotion – from undying love to severe jealousy – shown by Amadi’s Othello, brought a whole new dimension to this character and made it all the more convincing.
Alongside Amadi’s Othello was a superb supporting cast, none of whom can be criticised. In particular, Matthew Hopkinson really brought Cassio, a character whom I previously was not a fan of and felt lacked depth, to life with vigour and strong emotions and Emma Kirrage, playing Emilia, was excellent throughout but really came into her own in the final couple of scenes.
The character we all love to hate, Iago, is of course the one that has high expectations held on him by most audiences. He is one of the most manipulative and controlling characters created by Shakespeare, and George Jauncey really did not disappoint in taking this character to another level. Iago’s famous soliloquies usually break the fourth wall, talking directly to the audience, letting them in on his secrets. But in this production, he didn’t just break the wall or peer around the corner but come storming through, bulldozing it down; sitting with the audience, talking directly to them, giving them knowing smiles and cunning looks almost making them his co-conspirators. Jauncey had a hint of the BBC’s Moriarty about him and I am not sure I will see a portrayal of Iago which will rival it for some time.
Even if you have seen Othello many times before, great performances across the board and astounding ones from George Jauncey and Kingsley Amadi means that this is definitely not a production that should be missed.
Please feel free to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!

Othello runs at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre until 11th May 2013.
Box Office: 08444 771 000 or book online at http://www.lionandunicorntheatre.com/othello.php

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