One half of the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival sees prominent a General fall from grace through the machinations of a supposed friend in William Shakespeare’s Othello. Should you see it?
The moral of Othello is never to trust a guy named after the parrot in Aladdin.
Othello is a bad-ass general who falls in love with a lass called Desdemona and gets himself hitched. He’s got a sweet job, a hot wife, and everybody loves him. Except for his best bud, Iago, who pretty much hates him with a fiery passion birthed in the parts of hell that even Satan finds too hot and uncomfortable. So Iago gets to manipulating and using everybody around him to destroy Othello by convincing him that his pure and innocent wife is having an affair. This is one of Shakespeare’s tragedies so it doesn’t end well for anybody.
In this St. Lawrence Shakespeare festival production of Othello, the story’s been re-located to the eighteen hundreds, specifically the war of 1812 – which also factors into the history of Prescott, Ontario where the festival takes place. The dialogue remains Shakespeare’s own but the production design – costume, music, and set elements – were pulled from that era. Pity is to the actors who have to wear heavy military uniforms (at least they were white) in the hot afternoon heat of the matinee we attended, but the uniforms looked good and the new setting suited the story.
Quincy Armorer’s Othello has a commanding presence and looses a powerful rage as the general quickly falls apart and lets his irrational temper get the best of him. Lana Sugarman delivers a heartbreaking performance as Desdemona, pleading with her husband and begging for her very life.
Of course, it’s Shane Carty’s devious and deliciously unapologetic Iago we need to talk about. He parlays his reputation as an honest do-right as he lies and manipulates every single person he comes across, including his own wife, to enact his vendetta. All that was missing was the maniacal laugh. In the end, Shane Carty was so “in” the role and givin ‘er that I was almost -hoping- Iago would get away with it because he just put so much darned work into his machinations. Obviously, Othello has a cooler name, but we all know Iago’s the star of this play.
Quick shout outs also need to go out to Alix Sideris as Iago’s wife, Emilia, who emerged to steal the show in her big scene towards the end of the play and Melissa Morris for her musical direction – including some wonderful book-end numbers that added to the show, using actual period music, while not strictly being part of the play.
Remember, the play takes place outdoors at the beautiful Kinsmen Ampitheatre in Prescott. This provides nice opportunity for the action of the play to happen all around the seating area (more about that in the Midsummer Night’s Dream review) but prepare accordingly. Sunscreen, bug spray, sunbrella, blanket/cushion.
What did you think? Was I the only one who wanted to get up there and smack some sense into Othello? Tell me in the comments below. I’d like to know. And if you haven’t seen it yet, are you planning to?
For more info on the show, check out our preview, complete with photos and video.
Photos for this article taken for Production Ottawa by Production Ottawa photographer, David Pasho.