OTHELLO BY DRIFTWOOD THEATRE GROUP
Directed by D. Jeremy Smith
by Velika Maxam
A love seeped fallen handkerchief, the destructive power of envy, and antagonistic plotting, all set against the backdrop of love and war, unfurl one of Shakespeare’s most poignant tales of jealousy and tragedy, Othello. A well-acted piece, brought to life by the Driftwood Theatre Group, as part of their 2017 Season Bard’s Bus Tour with a clever artistic interpretation, the art of the play comes to life outdoors under a watchful sky, proving to be one of the summer’s most enriching theatre experiences.
The love of Othello, a Moorish general in the army, for his Desdemona, a Venetian beauty, is well played by actors Jordin Hall and Fiona Sauder, who demonstrate well devotion and loyalty between man and wife from infatuation and romance to the relationship’s ultimate growing inclemency. Christopher Darroch who plays the villainous Iago, is not without mention, as the driving force behind Othello’s demise. Swooping in frequently as the plot thickens, Darroch moves us with Iago's various monologues of lies and deceit, not to mention exploitation and manipulation, all done with a drive and purpose that any devilish Shakespearean character doth possess.
The intriguing alliance between Cassio (Shelly Antony) and Desdemona, is ultimately utilized by Iago to incite Othello’s insecurities, in a path of destruction, and Antony moves the audience well with charm as Cassio, drawing the audience further into the depth of plot of Desdemona’s campaign.
Other actors play multiple roles, exchanging accents to delineate between characters, Helen King for example, which in a clever interpretation plays Brabantio customarily a male role. The gender line was towed in Shakespearean times, when all parts were played by men and boys, so making the switch in this piece is refreshing. Ayesha Mansur Gonsalves playing the Chief of Defense, also shines as Emilia, who emotionally exposes the truths of the inter twisted schemes and Iago’s fateful intentions that drive Othello’s monstrous jealousy and ultimate collapse.
As a frequent Shakespearean sub plot, the threat of war abounds, and in Othello there is talk of the invasion of Cyprus by the Turkish fleet, which coincides well with the battle waged between Iago and Othello. Driftwood Theatre Group, in an adept artistic spin, set the conflicted action of the play on the island of Cyprus, but between July 20 - August 14, 1974, introducing a real military event in recent history to the plot, and allowing a modernization of the piece which was a welcomed interpretation.
Any theatre lover who hasn’t experienced open-air plays must do so with this piece. As the plot darkens so do the night skies, which coincide interestingly with the intensity of the story, allowing the audience member to transcend to the 17th century wondering if Shakespearean plots were meant to be played outdoors as the day and the play dim simultaneously. The backdrop of the Cypriot war brings with it sandbags and bunkers set out on a stage of grass, of which the actors enter and exit upon throughout, giving any theater goer a realistic escape into a centuries old piece, hard to find in a darkened theatre.
The Driftwood Theatre Group's 2017 Season Bard’s Bus Tour of Othello continues until August 13 in various locations across southern Ontario, check out their website for further details.