Othello, Shakespeare's Globe

Othello, The Globe Theatre, London, July 11

Othello, The Globe Theatre, London, July 11

Everything bad that happens in Shakespeare's Othello is down to Iago, of course.

He is the devil incarnate; a man without morals, a dangerous psychopath who does what he does for no real reason.

The impact of the tragedy is in the hands of the actor who plays Iago and there are none better than Tim McInnerny's.

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He held the packed Globe audience in the palm of his hand, tickling us with his dark humour, appalling us with his fiendish manipulation of the people who trust him. Even as he plots Othello's downfall, he has us laughing. Even as he plans murder we are revelling in his wit. He is irresistibly evil.

And yet McInnerny does not fall into the trap of being too matey with the audience. We are therefore reassured that it's all his own work - he is not jealous of Othello, lustful for Desdemona, suspicious of his wife and contemptuous of everybody just to entertain us. He carries out his vile plan for his own satisfaction and leaves the question of why he does it unresolved.

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While this towering performance drives the tale, it is Othello we must pity. The moor, a noble man and a great soldier, marries a young white woman, Desdemona, and shocks the establishment.

Building on the disquiet, Iago encourages Roderigo, a complete innocent who is infatuated with Desdemona, to sell all his possessions so that Iago can advance the young man's cause. In fact, he pockets the money while Roderigo wanders about, an anguished, lovesick puppy.

By a stroke of luck, Iago gets his hands on a handkerchief Othello gave Desdemona as a love token. He uses it to convince Othello that his wife is being unfaithful with womaniser Cassio.

We see Othello lose his trust in everyone around him until the only person he can turn to is Iago. It is chilling to behold.

Iago's machinations are not discovered until the tragedy is played out and the blameless are left dead or injured in the madness of the moment.

Eamonn Walker's Othello changes from a man of dignity and a respected leader of men into an indecisive wreck, a man riddled with doubts. Walker shows us Othello's pain as he descends into the hell Iago has created for him.

Zoë Tapper is a perfect Desdemona; wide-eyed and trusting. In her final scene, about to be killed by the man she loves, her terror is heart-rending as she tries to escape before succumbing to her fate.

There are outstanding performances too by Sam Crane as the whippersnapper Roderigo, Nick Barber as Cassio and Lorraine Burroughs as Iago's duped wife Emilia.

n This year, for the first time in four hundred years, a group of actors will tour a Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet, out of the Globe theatre, performing not in theatres in a collection of the UK's most picturesque and historically resonant settings.

Among these venues is Hedingham Castle, Halstead where a troupe of actors will entertain outdoor crowds with a stripped down version of Shakespeare's classic love story, Romeo and Juliet.

Dominic Dromgoole, Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe, says; “The Globe was born out of a touring company culture, and that culture remained vital to it while it flourished. We are delighted to be exploring again the tradition of taking Shakespeare into non-theatrical spaces.”

Romeo and Juliet is directed by one of England's most exciting prospects, Edward Dick, whose production of 'Tis Pity She's A Whore was a huge hit at the Southwark Playhouse eighteen months ago. Romeo and Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe On Tour is at Hedingham Castle, Halstead 31 July-1 August. Box Office 01787 460 261

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