Othello (1965): Phoenix Theatre Company, Leicester
PRINCIPAL CAST: Kenneth Farrington (Iago); Wendy Gifford (Desdemona); John Golightly (Cassio); Cy Grant (Othello); Brenda Kempner (Emilia).
The programme for this production has no dates, but the casting announcement in Plays and Players states that it ran for three weeks. Shakespeare Survey gives its first night as 17 October 1965.
"Anyone who does not have Olivier's genius would do well not to try and achieve his style. Grandeur turns to melodrama, ritual gesture to ham posture, and that mechanic lyricism into ramping. Cy Grant has, with a seeming eye on the master, played Othello at the Phoenix, Leicester, not wisely and not well. All he has of Shakespeare's Othello is magnificent presence and intermittent pathos. What he has of himself is sincere in the extreme, but oh the pity of his inability to be what he looks - proud, passionate, angry and wrecked. The verse collapses and interpretation relies on our memory of the text. This is regrettable in itself but doubly so in that Kenneth Farrington's Iago is splendid. His honesty is equivocal, his zest for evil brash and dangerous, his hatred burning. He is the true Venetian time-server of Shakespeare's play and he speaks with clarity and intelligence....The set has a Zefirelli [sic] quality of lighting and sound effects are capriciously staccato, the 'feel' of Cyprus and Venice is here. What is absent is a number of Shakespeare's good lines - Mr. Collins's principles of cutting seem quaintly indecisive - but what one really regrets is the fact that Mr. Grant gives us a mere dark shadow which occupies space with some visual majesty, but does not fill it." ~ Gareth Lloyd Evans, "Othello at Leicester", The Guardian, 21 October 1965