Othello (2017): Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory, Bristol
PRINCIPAL CAST: Piers Hampton (Cassio); Mark Lockyer (Iago); Norah Lopez Holden (Desdemona); Abraham Popoola (Othello); Katy Stephens (Emilia).
This production ran from 16 February - 11 June 2017, playing at the Tobacco Factory, Bristol and then touring to the Exeter Northcott Theatre (9 - 13 May), Wilton's Music Hall, London (16 May - 3 June) and Shakespeare Festival in the Neuss Globe (9 - 11 June). The production was co-produced by Shakespeare at the Tobaccco Factory and Tobacco Factory Theatres and the tour was co-produced with English Touring Theatre.
"This Othello is a blast of fresh air. It's clear from the start that he is a Muslim. His wedding dance with Desdemona unulates to a distinctly Middle Eastern beat. Afterwards, though, he puts on a big cross necklace, but, then, he's in Christian Venice in 1603. It makes sense to adopt the norm. It's an astute and powerful production that, in its interpretations and staging, feels thoroughly modern. Abraham Popoola (Othello) and Norah Lopez Holden (Desdemona) graduated from RADA only last year. They have vigour, youth and more than a bit of sex appeal going for them. Popoola towers above everyone, while Lopez Holden is small, but fierce. They are in love - she throwing herself at him, he picking her up and carrying her over various thresholds. Richard Twyman directs...He doesn't give its themes of jealousy, racism, politics and manipulation anywhere to hide on a sage that is as stark as can be, a raised boxing ring square set in the middle of this grand old hall [Wilton's Music Hall]. Each corner is staked by a scaffold tower, which periodically flashes. The designer Georgia Lowe softens the scenes with various props: a dinner table, a chair, a microphone that dangles down. It's a mix of modern and traditional, in attitude and costume, but it feels very natural. The acting is superb and, as a couple, Popoola and Lopez Holden are riveting. The language flows and you forget that you are watching them on stage in a play written in 1603; they could be a couple down the pub, roaring at each other, he green-eyed with jealousy, she holding her corner, insisting he has got it wrong." ~ Ann Treneman, "Othello: Wilton's Music Hall", The Times, 24 May 2017