I will be absolutely honest right now, I had never seen Othello performed in the theatre, (I know, the shame).
Anything Shakespearean, except my love for Romeo & Juliet is filed into a folder in my brain as a “School stuff”, so when I was invited to review this show I was thinking, “Will I remember the story and will it be as boring as the film I was shown at school?” Well, I’m glad to say that the answers are, Yes, most of the storyline came flooding back and, No, it was NOT boring, at all!
In my opinion, if they taught Othello by showing teenagers this NYT/Frantic Assembly version, I can almost guarantee 2 things;
- Every teenager or person watching the show will be giving it their full attention
- GCSE or A Level results would probably soar if as a result of the relevance and realness of this production.
The script in this production is a lovely blend of ‘Shakespeare‘ meets ‘Roadman 2017‘ with words like ‘Blud’ making it into the script. 😀
For those of you who know the storyline of Othello, this production stays true to it, but the setting is in the present day, which makes the situations much more relatable.
If you don’t know the story of Othello, it is one of Shakespeare’s tradegies, the play tells the story of a powerful general of the Venetian army, Othello, whose life and marriage is ruined by a conniving, deceitful, and envious soldier, Iago.
In other words, a true love blossoms amongst the backdrop of war and violence, but not everyone is happy about this romance, and plans are set in motion to destroy it, with tragic consequences.
It is a very emotional plot.
Here is a short video, showing a rehearsal and talking about some of the issues raised in the play.
THE SET & COSTUMES
The set was of a typical British pub with a large snooker table on the stage, bar stools and beer bottles as props.
Like the set, the costumes were not typical of a Shakespeare production that I have ever seen. It consisted of trainers, jeans and brands such as Hype!, Adidas and Nike.
The opening scene is on the streets with a gang stand-off.
I was mesmerised about the way the set moved with the action and emotions of the plot – you’ll see what I mean, when you see it 😉
Dance music plays a huge part of this show. Some scenes are told via mime and choreography and some scenes with loud dance music playing with characters talking or shouting but with their voices inaudible to the audience.
I was happily surprised at the amount and quality of dance within this production. There were so many mesmerising lifts and jumps on & off the set, without being overly-choreographed.
Each movement was cleverly added to move the story on, in other words, not dance, for dance’s sake.
My favourite choreographic highlights were;
- The choreography around the snooker/pool table
- The big gang fight is choreographed and performed to perfection!
- Othello and Desdemona’s love scene – The lighting in this scene is also breathtaking, so deserves a mention.
All the actors really brought the characters to life with real conviction.
Outstanding performances by Mohammed Mansaray as Othello (See photo above), Rebecca Smith as Desdomona (See photo below)
Also outstanding performances by Megan Burke as Emilia and Jamie Rose as Lago.
Jamie was so convincing as Lago, that I really wanted to scream at him to leave Othello and Desdemona alone 😀
This show is a must see, if you like to consume your shakespeare in a more modern way or just fancy something different.
Catch it before it’s over!
National Youth Theatre present Frantic Assembly’s Othello
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Simon Pittman
Adapted by – Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett for Frantic Assembly
Set Design & Co-Costume Design – Laura Hopkins
Evening performances – 7:30pm: 26 Sep, 3,10,24 Oct, 1,7,15,21,29 Nov, 5 Dec
Matinee performances – 2:00pm: 29 Sep, 3,6,10,13,20,24 Oct, 1,7,10,15,21,24,29 Nov, 5,8 Dec
Buy Tickets here – National Youth Theatre Website