It’s hard to know how to reframe the complexities of envy and irrational hate in youthful terms for Othello at the Union Theatre, but though Cornelissen doesn’t always quite manage it, the result still offers an intelligent take on the classic story.
Asides from the contemporary setting, the one thing that sets the NYT production apart from others is the sheer energy that all the performers exhibit. While allusions to West Side Story may sound widely incongruous, when one bears in mind the extensive use of choreography for fighting between two factions in this Shakespearean adaptation, it’s not such a strange comparison.
In light of Roman Tragedies reminding us of the vast potential of what Shakespeare can be rather than the tendency towards the ‘proper’ readings of his work that we tend to get here in the UK (vast generalisations I know, but can you really argue against it…), it’s gratifying to see directors, and venues, taking the opportunity to stretch those traditional notions.
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