The Reviews Hub **** – ‘Othello’

Steph Rowe


Othello, one of Shakespeare’s better known pieces is brought to life at the Open Air Theatre in Chester. The story of love, racism, jealousy and betrayal is a typical Shakespearean script. We see Othello declaring his love for Desdemona in court and Desdemona being summoned to validate his story of undying love and marriage of mixed race. The Moor has had an amazing past, having visited many places across the globe, being ensnared in Slavery and escaping. The Moor is a trusting man who lays more trust in a man and his word, and a handkerchief than in his own wife’s word. Iago and Othello have the largest parts in the play and it is Iago who speaks of racism, hatred and jealousy to better his own life, he wants what everyone else has and will stop at nothing to attain this.

Othello, played by the very talented Simon Coombs, takes possession of the stage every time he appears, his charisma and magnitude holding every audience members attention, his epileptic fits are so realistic that one feels his every pain. Iago (Graham O’Mara) manages to make you love him and yet hate him at the same time – the way he manipulates people round to his way of thinking, the plots and deceit he spreads shows him to be a villain from the off. The only downside to his performance is his quiet voice – at times it is a struggle to hear especially if he was facing away from you which happens quite a bit when shows such as this one are set in the round.

The beautiful Rebecca Smith-Williams takes on the role of Desdemona with the grace and elegance becoming of a Lady of the time. Many performances stand out from the performance including Cassio, played by Samuel Collings, and Emilia played by the lovely Katherine Toy.

Performed in the round this adaptation sees the whole of the set used, with a few large prop pieces being carried on when required and costumes that show the era of sophistication. Designer Jessica Curtis has captured every little detail needed to help the show flow smoothly, not an easy task in anyone’s book but one that deserves recognition.

Set in the glorious surroundings of Grosvenor Park, Director Alex Clifton has used the area for the show well, with various entrances and exits for the actors to enter or leave, the show never fails to hold your attention a sign of good direction from the start.

Chester’s open air theatre runs until 25th August, take a long a picnic a chilled bottle of wine and enjoy an evening of magnificence, don’t forget your bug repellent as when the lights are switched on in the interval the midges come out in force.