“Othello” — Shakespeare’s tragedy that explores how the mental manipulations of one man fuel the jealous rage of another — still draws crowds and stirs controversy more than 400 years after its creation.
Guthrie Theater has brought the play back to its stage through April 20. The production is led by acclaimed director Marion McClinton — known best for his staging of August Wilson plays — and features more than just one black actor on stage (Regina Marie Williams holds the part of Emilia in addition to Peter Macon as Othello).
While one critic found the show “scorching,” another critic deemed it good, but not great.
The genius of McClinton’s unapologetic air of masculinity reveals itself in the pained perorations of Regina Marie Williams’ Emilia, who is the conscience of this tragedy. With Desdemona — the innocent and heartbreakingly beautiful Maloney — lying dead because of the vicious stink of testosterone that infected both Iago and Othello, Williams delivers a scorching condemnation of Iago and the stupid, silly games that men play.
With each of the three central characters, there’s but a hair’s breadth between a very good performance and a great one. So, too, with the whole of this “Othello:” It’s a production worth the investment of time, but frustrating for the periodic glimpses at what it might have been.
Another of Othello‘s great mysteries: “honest” Iago. “I hate the Moor,” he avers and Lord knows he must. Why else would he do Othello such vicious mischief? But what is the source of his bitterness? Is he insane? Does he take pleasure from his nastiness? In this production, Iago is played by Stephen Yoakam. His evil seems pathological, almost like a growing tumor. One half-expects to see him explode. But this Iago is quite sane and, imo, this diminishes him. Yoakam is great actor, at the peak of his considerable powers, but I found myself wishing he were having more crazed fun.
Have you seen “Othello?” What’s your review?