The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0450  Thursday, 31 July 2008

From:       Charles Weinstein <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Sunday, 27 Jul 2008 11:01:38 -0400
Subject:    Iagogo

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.

--Charles Weinstein

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