Othello (2007): Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory, Bristol
PRINCIPAL CAST: Lucy Black (Emilia); Philip Buck (Cassio); Chris Donnelly (Iago); Saskia Portway (Desdemona); Leo Wringer (Othello).
This production ran from 8 February - 17 March 2007.
"Played in the round and with admirably simple staging, Hilton's version builds slowly and carefully to its terrible denouement. There is very little in the way of embellishment or stage trickery: the set is limited to a stone floor, a dining table and Othello's marital bed. Such an uncluttered approach is not only cost-effective, it also clears the way, quite literally, for some superb performanes. Chris Donnelly's Iago is the most restrained and unshowy I've encoutered, and this makes the seeping of his poison into Othello's mind all the more compelling and credible. As Desdemona, Saskia Portway is utterly convincing as a bright, besotted new wife and a woman wronged in a man's world, perched alone at the edge of a room while the men talk war. Leo Wringer's Othello, a commanding performance from the start, begins with a warm, quiet dignity which he loses as he becomes Iago's hopeless plaything. His transition, the thing that any production of Othello must render real to its audience, is made absolutely plausible here and, in the final scene centred on that marital bed, still shocking to behold." ~ Elisabeth Mahoney, "Bare-bones Bard shocks between the sheets", Guardian, 13 February 2007
"Like many of Andrew Hilton's productions, this comes across almost like a new play....On racism, Hilton takes a moderate line, though it's clear that the duke and senators are not above patronising Othello. But Leo Wringer plays an assimilated Moor, soft-spoken, calm, almost casual. He knows that he belongs. It's this quiet confidence in himself and in his place that makes his disintegration so pathetic and moving. In moments of anguish, Wringer's voice tends to break up, so you're not sure whether it's the actor or the character is out of control. Indeed, most of the cast sound indistinct when they face away from you." ~ John Peter, Sunday Times, 18 February 2007
"The play is the thing, refreshingly free from fancy directorial flourishes, at the Tobacco Factory in Bristol. Andrew Hilton's spare, penetrating production of Othello, staged in the round with minimal props, lets Shakespeare do the work, and the play emerges as a compelling study of sexual jealousy and racism, filled with convincing characters. Leo Wringer is possibly the finest Othello I've ever seen; a noble, charismatic, profoundly civilised and eloquent man. Indeed, this Othello has a magical way with words, which is one of the reasons Desdemona is bewitched by him. But he is also easily seduced by them, which makes him vulnerable to the brainwashing tactics of Chris Donnelly's exceptionally plausible Iago." ~ Georgina Brown, Mail on Sunday, 18 February 2007, in Theatre Record 2007, Issue 3