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Review: Rogue'z Theatre Company - Othello @ Chapter

Posted by Weeping Tudor from Cardiff - Published on 20/01/2016 at 12:06
0 comments » - Tagged as History, Stage

  • Othello - Photo Credit: Gavin Bray

Rogue'z Theatre Company - Othello
Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff
Tuesday 19th January 2016

There is a celebration of 400 years of Shakespeare in 2016. Yet the festivities never end for the bard, as we have always had an affection and curiosity for his writing.

This production of the great tragedy has all the markings of an Everyman Theatre piece. The cast, director Geraldine Watson and the crew are familiar faces to Cardiff audiences, but for Rogue'z (which is still in its infancy) Shakespearean additions are for now frequenting the company. Othello is a meaty play, here gently trimmed for an accessible, acceptable version, which does not do a disservice to the original intentions.

Othello, a Moor, is content with his wife Desdemona. The cunning and narcissistic Iago, hell-bent on the pair's demise, plots a wicked plan for no particular reason. Through jealously, manipulation and blackmail, his evil plot goes swimmingly and he marvels at the flies in his web. This story is one of Shakespeare's harshest works; an unbearable intensity is built up towards the climax, after the murders are considered then acted upon. How do you truly claim your innocence?

As the Moor, Andreas Constantinou is in his element in a role he loves to play and it shows. The grandeur, the restraint, then leading to bouts of utter fury and devastation. He certainly proves his chops as a near thespian darling of the South Wales theatre scene. As his wife, Charlotte Rees is the sweet victim of the plot, having to express her desperate turmoil in her futile attempts of innocence to her husband. Dan Burrows is an Iago of great craftiness, at times subtle and in other moments revelling in the utter thrill of having great control in tearing apart people's lives.

Owain Miller is a dandy-like Cassio, another foil in this sad plot. Jack Muir even more foppish as Roderigo, who is fleeting comedy in an otherwise strict misery fest. Emilia played by Rebecca Price is poor Iago's wife and servant to Desdemona. Her part is pivotal to the wrapping up of the story, in her confession and shaming of her husband (400-year-old spoilers here). With a melodious singing voice and great acting presence, Rebecca is super in everything she does. Clive Richards enjoyed much bellowing and shouting as Brabantio, father of Desdemona. Veteran performer Richard Watson, always a charm here in a cameo as the Duke of Venice, hamming things up and always with stellar delivery. Cassio's mistress Bianca was Sophie Hayden, telling in her short role as a love interest for the young lieutenant.

This was a large cast, too big to detail everyone here. Some of the supporting cast had wooden delivery of the lines, nothing which can't be ironed out a few shows in. Some actors with thick, Welsh accents were at times jarring (has Venice ever seen so many Welshmen?). But as always, a good sense of community theatre mingled with the stature of professional actors.

Production wise, we had a minimalist set, inspired by Islamic designs and the effective use of lighting highlighting these designs in their shadows. The gossip and inner turmoil of Othello is synthesised via whispering quotes from the text, amplified to us on speakers. This quickly became distracting and overused. It could have added more depth to an otherwise dramatic ending, since it did not feature at the conclusion. The costumes are always eloquent and really add to the period of the piece (Andreas' wardrobe was just super).

If Andreas and co are also keen to try out more Shakespeare, why not stage more rare works, as is keeping with the ethos of the company?

Powerful and stirring theatre.

Rating: 4 Stars

Othello continues at Chapter Arts Centre till Saturday 23rd January 2016

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Cover Photo Credit: Gavin Bray

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