Monday, 25 February 2008

Othello @ Donmar Warehouse

Thanks to my wonderful brother, Mateja and I went to see the last performance of Othello at the Donmar Warehouse. This production has been highly praised ("An Othello for our times" - The Guardian), but even this didn't prepare me for the show!

This was the most amazing show I have ever seen. There was nothing to fault. From the lighting to the sound to the music to the minor characters, it was suberb. However, above all Chiwetel Ejiofor totally commanded the stage. His power was awesome, and yet he gave the part great subtlety. The scenes with Ewan McGregor (Iago) in the second half were particularly wonderful. I'm sure people will speak of this Othello in years to come.

There have been some criticisms of Ewan's performance - essentially that it was too weak and not sinister enough. However, I think they miss the point - I think Ewan was trying to give the audience some reason for *why* Iago was trusted so utterly by both Othello and Emilia. Were he such a cartoon villian surely someone would be suspicious.

At the end of the performance there was a notable pause before the standing ovation - people were so shocked. A woman a few seats away from me was in tears. Even afterwards, we found it quite hard to talk after the show. To be exposed to that much emotion and tragedy takes it out on you! It's amazing to think that this play was written four hundred and five years ago - but I'm sure this sort of performance was what Shakespeare had in mind (or, perhaps, even better that what he had in mind).

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