Othello Syndrome

Theatre, Drama
4 out of 5 stars
(9user reviews)
'Othello Syndrome'
'Othello Syndrome' 'Othello Syndrome'
Attempting to break away from the traditional version of Shakespeare's violent tragedy, Chameleon's Dish presents this feminist adaptation, which focuses on the play's gender politics.


Average User Rating

4.2 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:5
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  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:1
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This production of Othello was both shocking and illuminating; the intention, I think, of Hannah Kaye. The interjections, by her, were distracting at first. Their relevance, however, became apparent as the play progressed. Subjects, often taboo even in the 21st century, were startlingly brought to the attention of the audience, which sat in stunned silence. The cast was absolutely brilliant, bringing to life all the human emotions so vividly expressed in Othello. If one has to single out an actor then it would have to be Ros Parker who portrayed Iago in a breathtakingly chilling and mesmeric performance. Her lingeringly menacing half-smile which closes several scenes is both cold and calculating. She plays her role not only convincingly but with utterly credible malice. Hers is an outstanding performance. My only criticism would be the somewhat puzzling exposure in the final scene of Iago's actor being a woman. Given the feminist nature of the issue raised, was Hannah Kaye really implying that such Machiavellian scheming could only be devised by a woman? An own goal surely?

Perhaps the easiest way to sum up my reaction to the Othello Syndrome is to say why I preferred to it to current production in the National. The National production caters for the ignorant who assume that the world was always as it is today. Most tellingly there is a woman senator in the Senate of the Venetian Republic, pop music is played throughout the play, and the military is dressed and equipped as they are shown in news reports from Afghanistan. The Dayton Arms production brings the play to the contemporary audience by emphasizing its contemporary relevance - most significantly – in the staging of Desdemona’s murder. Here she isn’t a silent victim who obligingly allows us to save all our sympathy and pity for poor misguided Othello. Her desperate attempts to live, her bloodcurdling shrieks are not only original, but they give us a deeper understanding of the play and bring home the barbaric cruelty of honour killing. It is a politically explosive production and I cannot understand why the national press didn’t pick up on it. Human nature has changed very little since the 17th century, but society has changed a great deal. This gives us both a contemporary and a historical perspective, which the National’s production doesn’t. To be sure this staging cries out for more money, and at least for two more actors, as Rodrigo and Bianca being played by the same actor is not helpful. But in spite of financial limitations, a limited number of actors, a few idiosyncratic ideas in an otherwise excellent direction, it was a most exciting and thought-provoking evening. Talent triumphs over limited resources I found most amazing Rosalind Parker’s Iago. The National gave us lots of woman soldiers in the today’s army; here we have a woman Iago disguised as a man. She brings out the joy Iago has in manipulating people – quite apart from his darker purposes- better than than any other actor since Bob Hoskins in the BBC Shakspeare series. I agree that Sonnie Beckett’s Desdemona was better than Olivia Vinall’s in the National. Adrian Quinton’s’s Othello was excellent, so was Andrew Hobday as Desdemona’s father, and Hannah Kaye as Emilia.

'Othello Syndrome' at the Drayton Theatre is a hugely energetic and thought provoking production. Those who have seen a dozen productions of 'Othello' will be forced to rethink their ideas. This is not a modern dress adaptation designed to make the the play accessible to 21st century theatre goers, (like the current National production). It delves much deeper. Running throughout is a commentary from the wings on honour killings, female genital mutilation and the general subjugation of women. Some of this is extraneous and the delivery is intrusive and over emotional, but the points are made and they add to the intensity of the production. It would have been more effective to include these ideas as a prologue and epilogue. The performances of all seven actors were superb. This illustrates perfectly that you don't need a huge cast (like the National's) to create an outstanding production. Adrian Qunito's tortured Othello, frightening in his madness, Sonnie Beckett's highly spirited Desdemona (unlike most docile Desdemonas), fighting for her life to the last gasp, supported by the comic skills of Tom Futerill as Rodrigo/Bianca, the steadfast Joey Ellis as Cassio/ a very elegant Duke, Andrew Hobday as the outraged Brabantio/Montano and the innovative direction of Hannah Kaye who also played a very sympathetic Emilia. That leaves Iago, played by Rosalind Parker, the smallest, most slightly built member of the cast. Impossible? Not a bit of it. This is a Machiavelli in the making, the most coldly evil, double dealing, hypocritical Iago I have ever seen, revelling in her schemes like a malicious Mosca. And she delivers Shakespeare as if it were her natural speech.

I absolutely loved the production. Having not seen Othello before, I was really excited to see it. Although some of the narrators points were slightly hammered home - I did find them very interesting and thought provoking. I also liked the way you were takin out of the production slightly by the narrator and given time to digest what you werre looking at. The performances were excellent. I was sompletely gripped by Sonnie's Desdemona and seem to remember having my hand to my mouth and trying to look away in the final scene! In short I loved it and would reccomend it 110%!!! Go see it while you can!!

Ok, so I helped produce this. Why is it important? The director placed herself on a faultline and set of a tidy seismic charge. This show was open to misunderstanding, incomprehension, and anger. It never set itself up as a definitive statement, but it opened up room for debate. Read between the lines of reviews and come see it for yourself - it delivers. It's an important step in the development of the company, it's delivered and executed brilliantly, and it is inspiring. Dan Horrigan

What a theatrical feast! A very slick and exciting production. I am tempted to go back and watch it again, because I think I missed out on some of it.

This show is the best thing I have seen on the fringe for many a year. If you want to see a predictable Othello, go to the National, if you want rap then go to the cockpit, but if you want to see something that pushes the boundaries and tests your preconceptions then go see this. The actors all play their characters with aplom and are in some cases exceptional. The actress playing Desdemona (Sonnie Beckett) was infinitely superior to her counterpart at the National Theatre. What a putty her talent is restricted to the somewhat scrappy Drayton Theatre. The interventions by the Director, Hannah Kaye, are in some places rather aggressive and do alienate the audience at points. However, the concept is innovative and I did leave with a very different attitude towards the characters Shakespeare wrote. I see a lot of Shakespeare, but I can honestly say this was one of the most challenging and interesting interpretations I have ever seen.

This show is the worst thing I've seen in years. Imagine a very poor performance of Othello, constantly interrupted by a fanatical bore, and you'll have some idea. It's rather like those "See film differently" ads in which someone gives their absurd idea of what a well-known film is "really" about, except that they at least are funny (and meant to be). This show is as if a particularly persistent nutter has not only sat next to you on the bus, but followed you into the theatre. When I saw it there were five people on the audience, at least three of whom had free tickets via Audience Club. After the first half people could hardly bring themselves to clap, even out of politeness. I didn't stay to see how many came back for the second half, but I doubt many did. The producers state that for each ticket sold, £1 will be donated to Eaves charity. A worthy cause, but both they and you will be much better off if you give them the whole ticket price and do something - anything - else with your evening.

A great production which simultaneously paid great tribute to Shakespeare's classic play and completely tore it apart, sarcastically throwing standard perceptions into a harsher (and more realistic) light. Strong cast all round, and some nice bits of choreography. I liked how the director hopped in and out of the play, switching seamlessly from her Emilia character into the critical narrator, passionately delivering some much-needed home truths. My only criticism would be her slightly wavering accent. A gripping production, intense at times, definitely worth a look, you'll never see Othello in the same light again.