Othello (2002): Theatre Unlimited, Cochrane Theatre, London, Theatre Neptune, Liverpool
Theatre Record states that this production toured nationally until March 2002.
"Christopher Geelan's production of Shakespeare's tragedy about the black Venetian general laid low by a tornado of jealousy has big ambitions. It hopes to turn the play into a study of East-West tension, institutionalised racism, gender conflict and even class war: While there is much in the text to justify these themes, Geelan's modern-dress staging is still more convincing as a traditional tale of spite, gullibility, innocence and green-eyed rage....Geelan fills Bridget Kimak's sunny design of cyclorama and sandpit with good, broad characterisation. In particular, Rupert Wickham's Iago is a nerdish, Essex-man squaddie who grows ever more afraid and enamoured of the fury he unleashes in Nicholas Monu's Othello. Believeing Iago's poisonous suggestion that Rebecca Johnson's Desdemona is an easy harlot, Monu is dangerously transported into towering fits of unpredicatble rage, like Mike Tyson at a press conference. He finds himself pathetically isolated by virtue of his colour and of his hallowed social status as an army top dog. But Monu's baritone performance also offsets Othello's jealous tirades with proud, barrel-chesterd nobility. This provides a good, macho contrast to Johnson's girlish, yet emotionally mature Desdemona, although Desdemona's bug-eyed, Bambi-like innocence suggests a character well beneath the age of consent." ~ Patrick Marmion, Evening Standard, 7 February 2002, in Theatre Record, Volume XXII, Issue 3.
"The world of Othello can feel alien to a modern London audience. Theatre Unlimited, however, posits that as long as the fights against racims, elitism and misogyny continue, it isn't so far from our world at all....[Geelan's production] is a classic interpretation of the play, sparely designed, cleanly performed and thoroughly absorbing. Nicholas Monu's Othello is, as the character claims, a little rude in speech, but he projects an authority that the ineffectual Venetian statesmen lack. And he is brought down by an Iago who is complex and brilliantly, brutally convincing. Rupert Wickham brings a laconic grace to the role, suggesting that he is not so much plotting Othello's demise as toying carelessly with fate. And, as the emotions he stirs up move beyond his control, we see a vulnerability, a powerlessness that is curiously affecting. So it's disappointing when Geelan allows those violent emotions to possess the production too. The final act is a frenzy of screeching, from Rebecca Johnson's simpering Desdemona and particularly from Elizabeth Hill's otherwise stout Emilia. Here, the fact that Monu hasn't the resources to make Othello's poetry shimmer becomes more problematic. The silence of death proves something of a relief, which is hardly the feeling this play should inspire." ~ Maddy Costa, Time Out, 6 February 2002, in Theatre Record, Volume XXII, Issue 3.