British Black and Asian Shakespeare Performance Database
Iago (1992): The Steam Factory (now Steam Industry), Man in the Moon, London
CAST INCLUDES (information from Theatre Record): Jim Pyke (Cassio); Howard Saddler (Othello); Charles Simpson (Iago); Esther Turnage (Desdemona); Nicola Wright (Emilia).
This production ran from 4-28 March 1992, according to Theatre Record. Casting information comes from this publication, so may be incomplete.
Originally produced by The Steam Factory, which has been re-named the Steam Industry.
"Not only has Phil Willmott had the impertinence to interfere with Shakespeare's Othello (changing its title to give it to the villain of the piece), but also he may well have improved on it. Tailored to modern tastes, this is certainly a leaner more streamlined and minimal version, its success springing from a gut understanding of the story. Shakespeare's complex drama has been severely cut to a core of five characters with the setting suggested by lighting, props and costumes, rather than scenes and speeches. The effect is to give the feeling of a Hitchcock thriller using melodramatic tableaux and psychological flashbacks. The characters that remain Othello, a black first world war general, his newly wed Desdemona, her maid Emilia, Othello's lieutenant Cassio, a silent gay navvy called Caius and of course the honest Iago - who makes it his business to rip the others to shreds. Stripped of much of the exposition of time and place, and focused instead on the motiveless malignance of Iago, there is now an even more unnerving psychopathic drive behind the action." ~ Patrick Marmion, What's On, 11 March 1992, in Theatre Record 1992, Issue 5
"...in aiming for intimacy, it loses much of the play's grandeur and thus its raison d'etre. The central figure is now not the Moor (Howard Saddler) but Iago ( a superbly menacing Charles Simpson, machinating with pure wickedness), while the action has been reset in a British mess in Burma between the wars. So diminished is Othello's stature by this shift of emphasis that his jealous rage at the suggestion of his wife's infidelity comes as an unconvincing bolt from the blue. He must be blind, too, not to notice that Cassio is far more interested in the mess waiter than in Desdemona" ~ Carrie Donald, Independent, 12 March 1992, in Theatre Record 1992, Issue 5
"It is set in the ballgown and khaki days of the Raj which seemed like a good idea even before the play began. Racism was there for the asking, sexual power a preoccupation of the decadent, idle overlords and the mixture of heat and military inactivity was a fertile seed-bed for malice....Howard Saddler plays the naive moor." ~ Rick Jones, Time Out, 11 March 1992, in Theatre Record 1992, Issue 5
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