Apr 01 2010

Othello

Published by at 10:28 am under reviews,shakespeare,sketchbook

I just saw ASP’s Othello. Unfortunately I missed the dress rehearsal for this show, so it was just a regular performance. Well, actually, it was a daytime performance primarily for local schools. It was kind of neat seeing Shakespeare with a bunch of high school students. I could sense their confusion at times, but for the most part they got into it. They were most audibly impressed by the fight scenes (very well-done) and the kissing scenes.

This is an emotionally powerful performance. Jason Bowen has the title role, and he starts off as a very mild and genteel Othello, but once Iago turns his mind to jealousy, his wrath is palpable. At the intermission the audience already knows Othello has fallen wholly into Iago’s trap, and it becomes almost an exercise in masochism to return for the second half and experience the tragic conclusion, wherein dread and pathos for Desdemona’s fate is amped up higher and higher before — well, if you haven’t already seen or read it I guess I shouldn’t spoil the ending, but it’s a Shakespearian tragedy.

The set design is interesting, but odd.  There’s a weirdly-shaped backdrop that has lines radiating out like cracks, not just across its surface, but out across the whole theater space (above the actors’ heads — see first two sketches). One of the kids sitting near me asked “what are those lines for?”, so at least somebody was paying attention. Most of the platforms are pointy triangles, and have more triangles cut out of them. I read it as a cracked-mirror metaphor, the whole performance being enacted in the cracked reflection of Othello’s broken love/trust. (Not bad, for what I’m sure is a tight budget for set design.)

As usual for ASP, the acting is excellent across the board. Ken Cheeseman does a great job with the juicy role of Iago, and I especially enjoyed Doug Lockwood as the inept Roderigo. It’s somewhat long, at almost 3 hours, and the parking is kind of tough around there. But the show is worth it. It only runs through this weekend, though, so hurry if you want to see it.

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