Othello at the Shakespeare Theater in DC

For the first time in my life I saw Othello today, and I was entranced. This production was done at the Shakespeare Theater in DC, and Othello was portrayed as a Muslim, which is probably what Shakespeare meant when he called him “the Moor of Venice”. I’ve seen and read quite a few Shakespeare plays in my life, and I have to say that Iago is the definition of evil incarnate. I’ve never encountered a more malevolent villain in literature or theater, and I was impressed at how he expressed his hatred. It wasn’t “I hate Othello”, it was “I hate the Moor”. By reducing Othello to his racial and geographic origins, Iago can’t see Othello as a man, only as an object of his own bigotry.

As with most Shakespeare theater productions, the set was rather stark, which is fine with me, as it allows me to focus on the language and and nuance of the performance. The actors all wore British army uniforms from World War I, which had an added irony, as the UK was the ruler of Cyprus from 1877 until the mid twentieth century.

A very powerful performance, and one that will stay with me for the next several days.

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