Saturday, July 25, 2009

That's enough of Othello

The performance of Othello that we saw at the Intiman Theatre last Friday was our third time seeing the tragedy of the Moor of Venice in less than a year. I think that's enough for a while.

The production was something of a bait-and-switch on the part of Intiman. When the season was announced artistic director Bart Sher was slated to direct. When Sher later announced his impending departure, they bagged the local production and brought in the "acclaimed" staging of the play produced by New York's Theatre for a New Audience and directed by Arin Arbus. Many of the players from that production did come west for the show -- with the notable exceptions of Othello, Iago, and Desdemona. I'm not sure you can say that's the same production. It's like you are bringing in the "acclaimed" cast of Some Like It Hot, except you couldn't get Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, and Tony Curtis.

That said, the show wasn't bad. Sean Patrick Thomas was eloquent as Othello and Elisabeth Waterston strong and loyal as Desdemona. But there wasn't really much fire between them. John Campion put on a hard, vengeful performance as Iago. (That's Waterston, Thomas, and Campion, l-r, in the Chris Bennion photo at right.) Trouble is, we've seen two way better interpretations of the character in the last year. Dan Donohue won the 2008 Wisey for Best Actor for his portrayal at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and Mike Dooly was fabulous in Balagan Theatre's smart production directed by Ryan Higgins in December. Both of those Iagos were more complex and nuanced, charming really, and to my mind more likely to successfully be able to manipulate the other characters to do his ultimate bidding.

Interesting that Seattlest agrees with us about the Balagan production, except that they want to re-stage that one -- and "see if John Campion is free." Campion was sure the star of the show, as Iago is meant to be, but I'll take Dooly any day.

Othello runs at Intiman through August 9.

No comments: