The recent rush into autumn was heralded by Jane Darby’s truly epic production of Othello in the Ellis Theatre.
For the last six weeks a group of very committed and talented Upper School actors have grappled with one of Shakespeare’s most challenging tragedies culminating in an intense and gripping performance. Reimagined in a rather dystopian autocracy, the action took place within the confines of a modern army camp on the island of Cyprus. The stunning set design by Paul Cox created an intense boiling pot of levels, wire, gravel and sand evoking many images of modern desert warfare and referencing the tenuous Venetian claims to the island and their interference with a troubled Ottoman empire. This gave the perfect setting for some outstanding central performances and it would be remiss to not mention the enormous achievement of both Ijah O (U6) and Luca C (U6) who brilliantly navigated the weight of character and text in Othello and Iago respectively. However, the talent was not confined to the leading roles. There were some wonderfully rich character interpretations from every member of the cast, all of whom contributed to the heart-pounding action on stage. The final act – one of Shakespeare’s most harrowing – kept the audience on the edge of their seats and the hard-won final lines felt alarmingly relevant.
This production brought Shakespeare’s Othello crashing into a world just a hair’s breadth from our own. In the stunned silence of the audience, prior to the applause, we were left to reflect on the impact of war and service on our fundamental humanity. My sincere congratulations to all those involved in such a magnificent production.
Head of Drama