The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1075  Friday, 10 June 2005

From:           Richard Burt <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 10 Jun 2005 08:14:19 -0400
Subject:        Othello Stage Review



Cast lifts 'Othello' in season opener

At the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum, William Shakespeare's masterpiece
of toxic jealousy comes across with plain-spoken precision.
By David C. Nichols
Special to The Times

June 10, 2005

It is a round, unvarnish'd tale delivered by "Othello," which opens the
summer repertory season at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum. Director
Ellen Geer and company propel William Shakespeare's masterpiece of toxic
jealousy past some tonal bumps with plain-spoken precision.

Audiences have responded to the interracial psychology and thwarted
ambition of "Othello" since 1604, and the title role has tested
tragedians from Edmund Kean to Laurence Fishburne. We open in Venice,
where scheming Iago (Jim LeFave) manipulates Roderigo (Jeff Wiesen). He
is piqued that Desdemona (Willow Geer), the daughter of prominent
senator Brabantio (William Dennis Hunt), has eloped to Cyprus with the
Moor Othello (James Avery, alternating with Steve Matt). Iago, as he
informs us, has profoundly evil plans, which include wife Emilia (Melora
Marshall) and Othello's lieutenant, Cassio (understudy Travis Brazil, in
for Aaron Hendry), and which end in tragedy.

Ellen Geer observes shrewd cuts in her clean staging. Elizabeth
Huffman's smart costume pulls are striking, and the fervent cast is
creditable. Avery makes a sonorous, instinctive Othello, doubly
heartbreaking because this Moor should know better. As Iago, LeFave
takes the risk of playing joviality and venom simultaneously. It
certainly makes for entertaining asides, and he is nothing if not intense.

[ . . . ]

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