The physical theatre company Frantic Assembly performed a rendition of Othello as you’ve never seen it before. Set in a run-down pub, with a pool table, a ladies toilet and a fruit machine in the corner. Perhaps not the most inspiring of settings, but having heard rave reviews of the company’s previous performances I was excited to see how they would use the space. The 9 members of the cast were dressed in leggings, tracksuits and trainers and hearing them recite Shakespeare was at first, I’ll admit, a little jarring. However as the play progressed the language began to flow more naturally and their use of expressive movement made the play lively and energetic, giving it a new lease of life beyond the words of Shakespeare.
My favorite performance with that of Stephen Miller, who gave a sumptuously evil and conniving Iago, using snake-like movements when convincing Othello of Desdemona’s infidelity. Another aspect of the play I enjoyed was that movement was not restricted to just the actors, even the backdrops were used, for example when Cassio fell against the walls in a drunken stupor they moved with him to convey the sense of disorientation. Slow motion was also powerfully utilised, allowing the audience to concentrate on a particular touch or movement that expressed intense emotion or would become important in the plot. The rendition was violent, bloody and gripping in its entirety, staying true to the themes of jealousy, race and sexuality in Othello which still resonates with audiences today.
By Charlotte Grosvenor