STRIPPING back Othello, one of Shakespeare’s meatiest plays, is not for the fainthearted but Pamela Schermann pulls it off with a new adaptation now on at the Rose Bankside.
Her stripped back production is a pretty decent affair although to begin with I was a bit unsure.
The cast is but five strong, dispensing with most of the characters and instead focusing on those at the centre of the story - Cassio, Othello, Iago, Desdemona and Emilia – and the central themes of jealousy, power and ambition.
It is a modern day production set in the cut throat world of business with James Barnes’ Othello more of a successful CEO than an army general.
Iago, played brilliantly by Trevor Murphy is his lackey, passed over for promotion by his boss for the younger Cassio.
Driven by ambition and jealousy at the way he has been overlooked, Iago begins to display his evil streak. And while he continues to schmooze Othello, when his back is turned, Iago changes to that of scheming villain and the way he manipulate's Cassio and Desdemona's demise is frightening.
Indeed one of the best scenes was him sitting back in Othello's chair in his office with a sickening smile on his face waiting for his villainous deeds to unfold one by one.
Murphy is ably supported by Ella Duncan as Iago's wife Emilia – in fact the two are the most absorbing and compelling in the piece.
In love with a man she knows is no good for her and up to no good, Emilia is clearly caught between doing Iago's bidding and that of being loyal to and protecting her boss Desdemona. When she realises her mistakes she is rightly appalled.
The cast use the small space well and even the cavernous expanse at the back of the stage where the original remains of the theatre lie under water is not left out.
In fact the dark, chilly and atmospheric venue is the perfect place to put on the production which is well staged and absorbing.
Othello is on at the Rose Theatre, Park Street until Saturday, February 28. Tickets cost £12. Visit www.roseplayhouse.org.uk or call the box office on 020 7261 9565.