Traditional arts journalism is in decline. Now more than ever, this independent website and our podcast fill a growing void.
We've had over 1.5 million page views, and are grateful that you are here.
We rely on readers — and a handful of advertisers who share our values — to make our work possible. When we raised funds for our podcast, The "Performers Podcast," the average donation from people like you was $96.
Now we hope you’ll join us in augmenting our coverage of arts in the region by making a one-time donation today.
“The Stratford Festival has a strange history of presenting unsatisfactory productions of Othello, as least judging from the previous four I have seen here. In some there is an imbalance of strength between Othello and Iago, usually on the side of Iago. To have an imbalance between Othello and both Iago and Desdemona is a highly unusual error. I would like to say that Michael Blake’s performance alone makes this Othello worth seeing, but Othello is a play about interaction and Blake, no matter how excellent his work, cannot make up for that lack on its own.”
“Director Nigel Shawn Williams gives the play some much-needed texture by giving it a contemporary setting and emphasizing the racism that fuels Iago’s resentment and the misogyny that helps bring Othello down.
These themes are there dimly in the text, but Williams makes them vivid via some smart strategies.”
“There is much discomfort to go around with this play. Its events are charged by racism and misogyny and perhaps the reason it is so uncomfortable for the audience is because everything that happens in this play happens every single day in the world we live in. This is also, perhaps, the reason why this play is so important…
It is early to know for sure, but Miller’s Iago may be the most memorable character of this season. We first see him with a seething anger about being passed up for the position of lieutenant-this, allegedly being what sets him on a path of destruction-but as the play progresses and he becomes braver and cockier as he revels in his own villainy, one has to wonder if this dark side had just been waiting for an excuse to rear its ugly head. Miller is somehow simultaneously charming and creepy throughout most of the play”
“In the new modern-day production directed by Nigel Shawn Williams at the Stratford Festival, it’s the way female characters are put down, pushed aside or ultimately “put out” like a light that makes the play a deeply perturbing one.
The exquisite actor Laura Condlln delivers the key performance as Emilia…”
“Laura Condlln is excellent as Emilia, Iago’s wife, who is assigned to be Desdemona’s companion. She is also a member of the army, and stands by, dressed in her camouflage fatigues. Condlln gives us a self-assured Emilia who grows to see though her husband’s evil plan.
This is another production in modern dress – there are no Shakespearean pumpkin pants or ancient Italian costumes. The clothing reminds us that this is today – the regrowth of racism, misogyny, and narcissism which are with us now more than ever.
“In director Nigel Shawn Williams’ very capable hands, Shakespeare’s tale of emboldened deceit was given a decidedly two-hander approach, pitting the hapless Moor (Michael Blake in first-class form as he is moulded like clay to the point of murder) being driven to deadly despair by his extra-loyal underling/advisor, Iago (Gordon Miller is marvellously despicable bidding others to do his nefarious will by spouting half-truths at best and easily lying through his nefarious teeth).
Other impressive performances emanate from Laura Condlin’s wide-ranging Emilia, Jonathan Sousa’s readily perplexed Cassio and Shruti Kothari’s tart-with-a-heart rendering of Bianca.”
“Blake’s Othello is beautifully spoken, poised and feline: in all ways attuned to the world around him. He’s succeeded by contradicting in practice the low expectations that society has of him. Which is not to say he’s crafty; he’s savvy and principled.
Amongst any number of bold moves, perhaps the production’s boldest is to paint the person responsible for stirring up and instrumentalizing this hatred as not an exaggerated, extremist figure but as someone perfectly banal. Gordon S. Miller’s Iago is an average looking guy, balding, not particularly tall, kind of a Michael Keaton type, would probably fade into a crowd.”
“Nigel Shawn Williams’ vision for the classic Shakespearean work leaves nowhere to hide. The character’s raw emotions are on full display – be it the joy of love, the creeping seeds of doubt, the murderous rage of betrayal, or the sickening realization of being played for a fool.”
“Gordon S. Miller’s Iago is a performance highlight of the evening. His Iago is everything a villain must be – two faced, deceitful and dishonest – and I can understand completely why any actor would relish the opportunity to play him.”