Othello (1992): Everyman Theatre, Liverpool
PRINCIPAL CAST: Ray Fearon (Othello); Gillian Kearney (Desdemona); Joanne Stoner (Emilia); Tony Turner (Iago).
This production ran from 31 January - 29 February 1992.
"I liked the new Othello at the Liverpool Everyman. John Doyle's production has speed, clarity, and a sense of a tough story well told. Tony Turner gives the best performance: his Iago is one of nature's efficient, bullet-headed NCOs, cool and collected, but getting vicious pleasure out of stoking up his own resentment. Ray Fearon's Othello is athletic and personable, not remotely declined into the vale of years: a youthful but dignified soldier. He has a good, lyrical voice, but he makes it work too hard; passion, pride, even anger, need pitch and colour, not just volume - as, in fact, Fearon shows when he mourns Desdemona. I don't mind that the Duke of Venice is a Duchess, but having her played by a black actress is barmy. It annuls the point, so precisely made by Shakespeare, that Othello is the one black outsider in a white community. This play is so specifically about race that racial cross-casting weakens its impact." ~ John Peter, "A world of mortgaged emotion", Sunday Times, 16 February 1992
"The Everyman, Liverpool has taken a bold course with Shakespeare's Othello. It has been pared down to the basics, the text cut to just under two and a half hours on stage. The result is a fine, swift, muscular production which brings out the play's essentials at surprisingly little discount to the full (three and half hour) version. The set and design are apt for this incisive performance: just bare boards, white curtains, and a few effects to feed the orderliness of Iago's mind and the bedlam of Othello's. Warm pools of light in the blue gloom, and a wonderful improvised storm are the extent of the technical additions. The setting is the Italo-Turkish war of 1911-12, the costumes militaire, and the ethos moral....at the price of moving the suspense [by cutting the play], John Doyle's stern direction follows a single path of energy into the play; the Iago-Othello relationship. The whole action turns on the words, 'Ha, I like not that' as Iago casually traps Othello...Ray Fearon's Othello is welter-weight rather than heavyweight, ardent in affection and obdurate in revenge, but never calamitously in love with Desdemona." ~ Andrew St George, "Othello/Everyman, Liverpool", Financial Times, 5 February 1992