6 January 2008

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Because I promised [livejournal.com profile] seiyaharris...

I managed to score the hottest ticket in town (seriously, people have been paying £2,000 a ticket) to see the latest production of Othello at the Donmar Warehouse theatre. A friend got the tickets by dint of sitting on the phone and constantly re-dailing the day the tickets were released until she got through. The entire run sold out in 20 minutes... But as a result we got tickets for the princely sum of £15 a piece.

And why were the tickets so sought after? Well, the Donmar is a very small and intimate theatre, seating a mere 250 people at a time. And Iago is being played by one Ewan McGregor...

So, what was in like? In short, it was the best production of Othello that I've seen. This is my fourth production, so although I've by no means seen a vast number I think I've seen enough to provide a far comparison. Chiwetel Ejiofor was an absolutely superb Othello, powerful, poignant and truly sympathetic. I've seen past Othellos who have left me impatient at their gullability, but Chiweto sold me completely. Likewise Kelly Reilly's Desdemona. Alternately strong, compelling, tender, bewildered, her love for Othello was palpable making me really believe that even though she had become terrified of her husband she would make no move to leave him. And she fought back convincingly in the death scene, no meek and mild maiden she. Chiwetel was at the centre of a strong cast, but had Kelly's Desdemona not been so convincing I don't think his performance would have shone quite so brightly as it did.

And what of Ewan? Well, it must be said that he is the weakest of the three leads. Chiwetel and Kelly are the best Othello and Desdemona I've seen but the best Iago is still Bob Peck, who was amazing even with the hindrance of a rather risible Donald Sinden (in blackface *winces*) as Othello. But, Ewan was by no means the worst of my Iagos, and to say that he's the weakest of such a strong cast is no insult. He managed to portray Iago's casual malice with the appropriate self-centred amusement and left us in no doubt that here goes a sociopath who really enjoys pulling the wings off butterflies.

The remaining cast members were all almost uniformly good, and coupled with a spare, clever setting of bare flagstones, minimal set decoration and a lovely moment when gauzy, full curtains cascaded from the ceiling around Desdemona's death-bed it made for an evening of riveting and spectacularly moving theatre.

If you could, I'd say go. But it has long since been sold out, save for 10 standing-only tickets sold each day.


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