Othello (1982): Young Vic Theatre
PRINCIPAL CAST: Rosalind Boxall (Emilia); Amanda Boxer (Emilia); Kenneth Haigh (Othello); George Sewall (Iago).
This production was staged in September 1982.
It is worth noting that this production was part of the Young Vic's Venice Season as BAME actors were more present within the rest of the series, although not in this production. Although Jeffery Kissoon was not cast in Othello, he played Philip Calendaro in George Gordon, Lord Byron's play Marino Faliero, Doge of Venice which was the second play in this series; Jay Ruparelia was cast as an Executioner.
"Actors bound dutifully on and off in velvet doublet and hose, spilling out iambic pentameter verse with soulless competence, punctuated by a sound machine of drum beats, soughing wind and canned jubilation....I did have a sliver of sympathy for Kenneth Haigh's pleasant, well-mannered Othello, boot-polish notwithstanding. But pleasant well-mannered gentlemen don't readily go wild and murder their wives...Hugh Hunt directs this inauspicious opening to the theatre's Venice Season, though, apart from adding an extraneous Commedia dell'Arte dumb show, it's hard to detect much direction at all." ~ Rosalind Carne, Financial Times in London Theatre Record, 23 September - 6 October 1982
"There was Kenneth Haigh, blacked up to the seat of his underpants as a concession to Othello's ethnic origins and speaking down his nose to hint at his nobility." ~ Jack Tinker, Daily Mail in London Theatre Record, 23 September - 6 October 1982
"'Your son is far more fair than black' was particularly relevant in Hugh Hunt's production of Othello at the Young Vic. With the present wealth of black acting talent it would have taken a far more sensitive performance from Kenneth Haigh to justify his casting in the title role. ~ Kate Jessup, City Limits in London Theatre Record, 23 September - 6 October 1982
"Mr Hunt starts with some unlikely casting. Kenneth Haigh, whose wry, mercurial intelligence makes him a potentially fine Iago, is actually Othello; and the problem is that his light tenor voice and his alert, darting eyes dispel any belief in him as 'the credulous fool' of Shakespeare's text. He prowls dutifully around the stage in a gold-studded black jerkin and delivers the verse with quiet sensitivity but nothing he says or does shakes my belief that this is a role that lies outside the range of most white-skinned Englishmen....and that the passion that once led a daily paper to headline its Othello review 'Negro Murders Italian Girl' is here significant by its absence. ~ Michael Billington, Guardian in London Theatre Record, 23 September - 6 October 1982
"Where the actor [Kenneth Haigh] falters is in the frightening flare-ups of Othello's rage, a man who gets so angry he throws a fit. Even when he publicly strikes Desdemona, she receives no more than a paltry tap with a paper. Yet this is spoken of as an act to scandalise Venice. It is the blowing hot and cold of Othello that makes him so exciting in the theatre and here Mr. Haigh short-changes us." ~ John Barber, Daily Telegraph in London Theatre Record, 23 September - 6 October 1982