Frantic Assembly brought Shakespeare’s Othello to the MAST last night (22 November), and it is a magnificent experience of music, dance and acting.
You enter the auditorium and you are…. in a pub. Loud electronic music, a pool table, a flashing fruit machine. Othello is very unlikely to be the play you would expect, as you wait surrounded by this intense music and the hustle and bustle of people coming in and finding their seats.
The lights go out and in come the actors: tracksuits, trainers, hoodies, one wielding a baseball bat. The scene is set, Othello in the here and now. It’s a daring, physical production where Othello is a muscular gang leader.
It is masterfully choreographed throughout, from moments of latent violence, which explode into life, to an intimate scene where the pool table becomes the marital bed, and the site of harmonious delicate movements.
Then abruptly, back to the pub, where the choreography is now furious and throws us right into Iago’s plot and how he will put “the pestilence in his ear” (Othello’s), as Cassio obliviously scrolls on his phone in the background.
The fearless Othello, manipulated by Iago’s vicious premeditated plan, becomes trapped by insecurities and suspicion, racking up the tension.
This is powerful stuff, with a refreshing interpretation where music and choreography combine at the heart of the production, giving the word “frantic” in the company’s name full meaning.
It is, indeed, a frantic, compelling performance that keeps you on edge throughout.
Tickets for Othello (22 – 26 November) are on sale at mayflowerstudios.org.uk or 02380 711811.
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