The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0450 Thursday, 31 July 2008
Date: Sunday, 27 Jul 2008 11:01:38 -0400
Naxos has released an audio recording of the Donmar Warehouse's recent
production of Othello, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor as the Moor and Ewan McGregor
as his Ancient. As an aural experience, the production is largely dull; the only
thing worth mentioning (briefly) is McGregor. Young, cheerful, well-spoken, and
winning, McGregor is the most charming Iago I have encountered in any medium.
For awhile, that is very nearly enough. One understands why people like and
trust this man; one also understands why no one takes him seriously as
lieutenant material. But as the play progresses and Iago's cruelty deepens,
McGregor's unvarying amiability seems incongruous. A strange counter-textual
interpretation emerges, reminiscent of Auden's trickster theory but with a
striking twist of its own. In brief, Iago tries to play a harmless joke on
Othello, only to see the results spiral giddily out of control. The poor man is
forced to improvise desperately as he struggles to resolve the mess he
unwittingly created. Iago as the Boy who Cried Adulteress, a feckless but
innocent victim of events: now there's a novel take on the play, and I'm
indebted to McGregor for suggesting it.
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