5 October 2011

Othello

Put out the light, and then put out the light:
If I quench thee, thou flaming minister,
I can again thy former light restore,
Should I repent me:--but once put out thy light,
Thou cunning'st pattern of excelling nature,
I know not where is that Promethean heat
That can thy light relume.

Today it was time for an injection of culture at Sheffield's Crucible Theatre. The current production of Shakespeare's "Othello" has been vaunted on BBC radio and TV and by several theatre critics. I arrived early hoping to buy a "return" ticket and was offered a great seat seven rows from the front.

The production starred Dominic West as Iago, Clarke Peters as Othello and Lily James as Desdemona. For a girl who was still in drama school a year ago, Lily James was superb - imbuing her role with an overlapping sense of purity and gullibility that Shakespeare clearly intended. West was very good but arguably too domineering and I thought Peters made a rather puzzling Othello. His diction was often fuzzy - especially so when he raged. I was pleased to see that the reviewer from "The Guardian" agreed with me saying his enunciation "tips too often into indistinction".

I liked the fact that the set was simple and that the costumery was conservatively Elizabethan. In Shakespeare the words should speak for themselves without self-indulgent and rather bizarre stage effects and costume ideas chosen by madcap directors.

I first read "Othello" at the age of sixteen. I studied it again at university and then as a teacher I taught it a couple of times to A level classes. I am very familiar with the play's ideas and its language. Essentially it's about jealousy and the successful way in which the scheming Iago wreaks cruel revenge upon Othello for missing out on promotion.

The quotation at the top of this post comes from the last act of the play when Othello first extinguishes a lamp before proceeding to suffocate his wife. I have always remembered those lines. If I ever get to the promised land - the old people's residential home - you'll probably find me rocking in my chair reciting those words over and over till the Almighty puts out my light.

10 comments:

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  3. I love Dominic West ... and would have loved to have seen this production

    Othello with a sexy Sheffield accent.... I would have drooled all night

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  4. My grandfather, who was a overbearing old fart, tried to suffocate his roommate in the old folks' home with a pillow when he was 96. He was tired of the snoring. If he'd only been able to quote Shakespeare, he might have been treated as a gentleman instead of a pain in the patoot.

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  5. Good player that Othello and I think it's great to see someone from an ethnic minority background at the spiritual home of snooker, previously an exclusively white pastime.

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  6. COMMENT DELETED Another fascinating comment from you sir/madam.
    ELIZABETH The Iago in my head is less physically imposing, more sly and duplicitous. West's Iago filled the stage and the Yorkshire accent seemed faddish, deliberately affected.
    JOHN GRAY You could have caught him by the stage door. He'd have been saying "Get thissen off tha rampant Welsh poulterer! Tha said tha ownly wanted t'autograph!"
    JAN B. Sorry to hear that your grandfather didn't eke out the last years of his life sitting on a rocking chair, puffing on a pipe while staring nostalgically at the golden sunset of his life.
    SHOOTING BILLIARDS Iago really did pot the black in that play! (Not sure if this comment is PC?)

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  8. ELIZABETH I had absolutely no idea that you had deleted the comment.

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  9. yp if he caught me at the stage door I would have gone all weak at the knees

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  10. I like the way they issued the ticket in your blog name! Wow. That is so cool. I wish I was as famous :-)

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Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.