“Shakespeare always seems to end, not with an action, but someone sucking their teeth and saying …

… ‘Welp, that went a bit to shit…'”

In other words, Mike had his second attack of the ‘I live in London and fail to be cultural!’ this summer and so we went to Othello in the National. And had dinner in the National too. Excellent food, very tolerant staff, and a collection of older ladies bemoaning the queue for the bathrooms with great hilarity and cheery admissions that they were hoping for the male leads to get their shirts off. 

Which. Adrian Lester as Othello and Rory Kinnear as Iago. Stunning.

The set design was lovely – everything modular and sliding in and out to give exterior and interior without too much faffing about. They made the logical follow-through of a modern-dress production, which was to use guns instead of swords, with the result that much of the final act featured those of us who hadn’t read the play recently enough jumping a mile every five minutes.

I honestly don’t like Othello very much, usually, because of the overwhelming idiocy of basically everyone except Emilia. But they played Iago as the complete conniving bastard that I’ve always read him as (because really, he’s a manipulative, calculating, jealous monster who is completely aware of what he’s doing, don’t try and get me on his side), which made everyone else falling for it somewhat more understandable. Othello remains an idiot, and his being an idiot causes the general cascade of failure, inspiring Amy’s commentary above.

I have a terribly low opinion of Othello, even when he’s being played by Adrian Lester, sorry. An excellent, magnetic idiot, but sweet god, just TALK TO YOUR WIFE, man.

I did love and adore Lyndsey Marshall’s Emilia (I always forget how tiny she is! She has such force of personality that I just didn’t notice until I saw her up against Kinnear and Lester). I really really loved the relationship between her and Desdemona – she’s aware that her husband is frankly a quite terrible person, but he’s manipulating her as much as he is everyone else and she’s trying very hard to be good to Desdemona, who is so, so young, and doesn’t really know what she’s let herself in for.

Spent a certain amount of the last act in a bit of a funk, but it was very much worth going.