For anyone studying a Shakespeare play, I always recommend you go and see a stage performance. So it was great to see Black and White Sextet tonight, a modern adaption of Othello (one review here) which made practical use of modern news reports and mobile phones to help tell the story using abridged dialogue.
The small theatre made the emotion of the play very strong indeed and the ending was very well executed – a no holds barred approach to Desdemona’s nasty death which was far more powerful than a cutaway some larger productions might have been tempted to use. Oh, and Othello chased Iago offstage right past where I was sitting brandishing a sword which made me duck!
My experience was even better than simply watching the play, however, because Richard Earthy (Iago) is a friend of the family so he joined us for a drink afterwards with Fliss Walton (Desdemona) and the young university student in charge of lighting. This was amazingly and very useful as we discussed the play and various interpretations of it. Fliss completely changed my view of the meek Desdemona who was rather feisty and strong in this adaption, which is supported by considerable evidence in the text itself. The same goes for Emelia, Iago’s wife, who was also much stronger than we had imagined when reading in class. Shakespearian women have got guts, it appears.
It was slightly surreal as well. We mingled with Cassio and Emelia. Desdemona bought a round of drinks. Iago got some crisps and talked about his ‘gay wedding’ onstage in one scene with Othello. (See! I was right!) So I feel much closer to these characters now and how cool is that?