Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre Production
Actors: Tim McInnerny, Zoe Tapper, Eamonn Walker
Director: Wilson Milam
Genres: Drama, Musicals & Performing Arts
Performed for the first time at Shakespeare s Globe Theatre, with its racing concentrated plot and intense dramatic detail, Othello is one of Shakespeare's most exciting, atmospheric and heartbreaking plays. This is a tale... more »
The Tragedy of Othello Undermined By Jigs and Clowns, Or Wha
Stanley H. Nemeth | Garden Grove, CA United States | 04/01/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This production may rightly be praised for its eye-opening uses of the thrust stage of the "restored" Shakespearean Globe Theater. Not only are we spared unnecessarily elaborate sets and flamboyant costumes, but the action surprisingly is not set, say, on the far side of the moon, in the fashion nowadays of "innovative" stage directors who themselves often sorely need a director. The Globe Theater set-up happily allows the action and the language of a play to emerge clearly and naturally as its principal stars. Further, almost all members of the assembled cast speak their lines with exemplary intelligibility (Kudos to Patsy Rodenburg, the diction coach). A partial exception, however, is the Desdemona, the beautiful but finally cloying Zoe Tapper, whose vocal prowess ranges from the high-pitched strident to the high-pitched sorely beset, losing communication of any interiority of character as a consequence. Her voice in future stage roles would probably benefit, as did Vivien Leigh's under the tutelage of Laurence Olivier, by being lowered at least half, if not a whole octave.
The various scenes of this tragedy, as indicated, flow with a wonderful momentum, reproducing as they do the probable minimalism of the original seventeenth-century production. Also, the use of multiracial casting works to dispel the notion that the play is more about racial prejudice than about an unusual but wholly commendable case of intermarriage meant to circumvent any tribalist notions of human nature the audience may hold. But casting both Emilia and Bianca as black women whose race is never commented on raises as many problems as it solves. For one thing, it renders Brabantio's surprising disgust at his daughter's marriage to the Moor wholly unntelligible and throws much else in the play out of whack, since mixed marriages or relationships seem the order of the day, not the singular triumph of Desdemona, who "saw Othello's visage in his mind."
Despite whatever strengths mentioned, remaining flaws in this production quickly and disastrously overwhelm its merits. In my view, the philistine director Wilson Milam is the principal problem. His real wish, as his commentary indicates, is to present "Othello, the Comedy," since it hasn't been done before. The heart of his production, accordingly, is the Iago-Roderigo relationship, which benighted Shakespeare had thought, at best, a sidebar to the pity and terror of the tragedy of the uxorious Moor. Comedy is clearly director Milam's interest. Nothing else meaningful is underlined in the swift passage of scenes. The play's central themes of diverse responses to loss and the nature of patience in affliction hardly emerge to lend meaning and beauty to the action, thus rendering the great tragedy just an interesting, if pointless, piece of viciousness. What the director emphasizes instead is tomfoolery. The clowns speak more than has been written down for them (pace Hamlet), and impertinent jigs needed to keep a Polonius awake are inserted, too (again, pace Hamlet). The actor playing Iago is unfortunately allowed to wrench the play even further out of proportion. The laughter which rightly greets his manipulation of the hapless Roderigo inappropriately raises its head in scenes where we're clearly meant to sympathize wholly with the noble and anguished Othello and Desdemona, not laugh along with Iago. A.C.Bradley famously observed that "the genius of Shakespeare in creating Iago is that we, the audience, never lose sympathy with Othello and Desdemona." But what did Shakespeare know? Director Milam crudely upsets this brilliant balance.
In truth, the only scene which suggests any tragic pain and horror is the closing one, and by then it's too late for it to make much of an effect on the also shockingly barbaric, inappropriately giggling Globe audience. Moreover, and for the record, even this final scene, which mostly works, isn't free of a glaring directorial miscalculation. When Desdemona discovers that Othello really intends to kill her, she leaps off her bed, banging on the locked bedroom door and screaming for her own rescue in the manner of a B-movie gun moll about to be bumped off. Her behavior here is hardly of a piece with her beautiful final response moments later to the question of who committed such violence upon her person, "Nobody. I myself." In conclusion, the actors and the tragedy itself deserved a director (and perhaps an audience, too) more willing to confront the text's shocking power and pain straight on."
True to the Original
NC Reader | NC | 05/12/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Theater in Shakespeare's time was popular entertainment for the masses and not highbrow art. The Globe Theatre in London continues that tradition with this production of Othello. In contrast to productions of Othello in which the actors are self-consciously striving to be "deep", the actors here are playing for the crowd.
By no means does this make the quality of the performance suffer. Eamonn Walker brings a brooding physical presence to the stage as Othello. Zoe Tapper is amazing as Desdemona - beautiful and with a clear voice that makes her lines easy to follow. It is Tim McInnerny as Iago who rules the stage, though - the audience is alternately laughing at him as he manipulates the hapless Rodrigo, and then is horrified as he manipulates Othello.
Add to this the reconstructed Globe Theatre in London, and you have a winning combination. You need not be a Shakespeare scholar to enjoy this production - just a human being."
Not a flawless production, but a strong one
Nora L. Corrigan | Columbus, MS | 05/22/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you've never seen a production at the Globe, this DVD is worth the price just for the chance to see this unique playing space in action. The audience interaction is wonderful, and the gathering darkness reinforces the tone and mood of the final scenes in ways that I hadn't anticipated. It's easy for modern-day readers to forget that Shakespeare wrote his plays with outdoor performance in mind, and that early modern audiences were only inches from the actors, and this production makes inventive use of these staging conditions. The play is performed with very few cuts -- it's a rare chance to see often-cut material like the Clown scenes, and this makes it an excellent version to use in the classroom.
Unfortunately, Tim McInnerney's Iago is not wholly convincing, especially in his soliloquys and his big scene with Othello (3.3). While his scenes with Roderigo are entertaining, he comes across as too angry throughout this production, and it's hard to see why Othello and the other characters trust him. I found it difficult to imagine an Iago with so little control over his own emotions as a plausible manipulator. Zoe Tapper's Desdemona, on the other hand, is pitch-perfect. She's too often played as a shrinking violet, but Desdemona is the descendant of Shakespeare's earlier comic heroines like Rosalind and Beatrice. Tapper's Desdemona is genuinely innocent, and bewildered at the change in Othello's behavior, but at the same time, she's a bold young woman who defies her father to marry for love, banters with Iago, and pleads Cassio's case at the risk of further antagonizing her husband. Her final scene with Emilia and her murder work particularly well, but so do her earlier scenes; her affection for Walker's Othello is real and tangible, and this production feels like a comedy that has missed its way.
I enjoyed this video very much, and I look forward to sharing it with my students. I hope there will be more Globe performances released on video in the future."