Theatre review: Othello

Othello Brunton Theatre* * * *

SHAKESPEARE with strings or Othello with cellos could have been the subtitle of Icarus Theatre Collectives' interesting interpretation of this tale of the green-eyed monster.

The choice to use actors who are also accomplished players of stringed instruments and to attempt to blend the musicality into the performance without comment almost succeeded and added an interesting new layer to many scenes.

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The concept was slightly overused however and towards the end, as the tensions began to rise, it got in the way of the story as violins or cellos were hauled across the stage, pulling the audience's focus away from the words.

Othello is one of Shakespeare's most dense texts and the actors coped brilliantly with the complexity of the dialogue with on occasion the odd tendency to rush their lines being the only flaw in what were otherwise pitch perfect deliveries.

Vinta Morgan in the title role initially failed to give off the requisite authority needed by the part, but by the end he had totally absorbed the torment and madness which would eventually lead him to his final act of cruelty.

As Desdemona, Kate Colebrook had one of the most thankless tasks in Shakespeare, that of imbuing one of the bards wettest female characters with life. As with Morgan she took a while to get there, but as her world came crashing around her ears she managed to bring a sense of strength and dignity to the role, which is often played in a far more supine manner.

Iago is of course one of the best villains in theatre, but what is often lost in portrayals are the motives behind his bitterness and treachery. Christopher Dingli gave full vent to the whispered wickedness of the character but he also managed to engage the audience's sympathy for his wrongdoing and, as with the best baddies, won them over to his side for a moment.

Charles de Bromhead was excellent as a slightly livelier Cassio than usually played and Nick Holbeck was a standout as Roderigo, actually pulling off that most unlikely of tricks and getting laughs from a Shakespearean comic character.

Laura Durrant was a strong Emilia and also proved a capable Bianca, standing in for her colleague Loren O'Dair who was rushed off to emergency dental treatment after losing a tooth in what was a literally show-stopping moment.

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Despite the unintentional dental drama and the stop-start effect it had on the performance, this was still a show capable of capturing the crowd's attention. The cast performed in perfect harmony both musically and with the text and the multi-use sets, and simple but effective lighting and sound kept the audience engrossed in the action to the very bitter end.

Unlike the company's namesake, this show was no failure. The experiment with music may not have fully worked but it did make for a unique, new and interesting approach to a familiar story. If this is what comes from flying too close to the sun, then long may they continue.

Your review: 'I thought it was a lovely production'

Brian Proctor, 56, company director, Newington: "I've seen many productions of Othello over the years and this was amongst the best. Obviously if the show hadn't been forced to stop and start it would have kept the momentum going more but I was still captivated by the performances, particularly that of Iago, who was excellent. I wasn't sure about the music at first but I was won over by the end. It added a different colour to the palette and helped bring out the bittersweetness of many points of

Jane McKenzie, 35, legal secretary, Corstorphine: "I thought it was a lovely production, very well acted and with a strong sense of atmosphere. If I was to criticise it I would say that the movement was a little poor and restricted but that was probably partly to do with the musical instruments. The performances were wonderful and I was surprised to see that the actor playing Roderigo was in his first professional acting job as he was fabulous."