Othello – National Theatre Review

Othello National Theatre

After Nicholas Hytner’s exceptional production, for me, there will never be another Othello.

Perhaps to be more accurate, there will never be another Iago. In Rory Kinnear he has reached his apotheosis, others who attempt Iago will be but platonic shadows. I savoured this production for Kinnear’s captivating and witty Iago. Kinnear was natural and real, enigmatic, and, whilst not likeable, endlessly and enjoyably watchable.

He was not the only actor who delivered the seventeenth century lines with refreshing fluidity and ease; Jonathan Bailey’s earnest and charming Cassio was pitch perfect.

Adrian Lester initially presented a smooth veneer of polished and eloquent dignity. Very quickly he descended to insanity, though this was not the insanity of one driven mad with passionate jealousy. Rather he was somewhat disconcertingly unhinged, his veneer falling away too rapidly: I had forgotten how quickly and easily he is turned against his new wife. Lester’s Othello is as mentally vulnerable as Desdemona is physically so, he is easy prey for the studiously lackadaisical, yet scheming, Iago.

Olivia Vinall’s physique perfectly presented a delicate and ethereal Desdemona, however she played out her part as a Shakespearean actor, she was actorly and it jarred with this modern and natural production. She excelled, however, as an irritating ingénue and came into her own on her death bed, defenceless and exposed. 

The set (Vicki Mortimer’s militarily utilitarian backdrop), music (Nick Powell’s rhythmic and moody crescendos framing each scene) and costumes (appropriate to a military precision) gave a film-like quality to the production, enhancing yet further its 21st century setting. But the plaudits must go to Kinnear, this production was all about Kinnear and his perfect distillation of the essence of Iago.

The play is running until August 2013 for more information on how to book a ticket please click here:

Comment and let us know what your thoughts are on the production.

Camilla Norton