Othello is considered one of Shakespeare’s most timeless tragedies; an examination of the extremes of human nature. It explores the catastrophe which unfolds when the foil to love, jealousy, is allowed to taint a sweet and pure passion. Iago, the disguised ‘devil’ on Earth, poisons the black general Othello’s mind with insinuations that his newlywed wife is unfaithful. Othello sharply descends into insanity, and leaves a bloody trail of destruction stoppered only by his death.
The rain clouds drizzling above the yawning roof of the theatre did nothing to dampen the electrifying engagement between actor and audience. Once lit, the play’s volatile combination of love, jealousy and betrayal was unextinguishable.
The brilliant cast of actors and actresses took to heart the “nothing extenuate” recommendation from Othello, and staged an intensely emotional production. They slipped on the skintight persona of their characters so convincingly, that the spellbound audience could swear they had popped up living and breathing from the page.
The characters, far from being fictional and aloof, made the audience feel worthy of their attention. Entrances onstage were frequently made by barging through startled spectators. Iago kept smouldering eye contact with a select few during soliloquies. Othello emptied the liquid contents of a wine tanker into a squealing crowd. Roderigo clapped his hand on a student’s shoulder and hilariously asked her: “Do you want to buy some land?” The rousing music, drunken singing and clapping during Act 2 Scene 3 mimicked the energy and noise levels of a rugby final.
All of the students could agree that the Pop-Up Globe production burst all traditional conventions with fresh interpretation. A Kiwi twist was introduced with the hongi, and the racial diversity of the cast reflected Auckland society. A female portrayal of the masculine Duke elicited surprise. One climactic reinterpretation had a battered and bloody Iago winched, upside-down by the feet, through an opening in the roof – as Cassio remarked, to be judged by heaven.
Pop up globe gives student a unique opportunity by bringing Shakespeare to life. Each student reluctantly left the theatre feeling exhilarated and inspired. This experience will be beneficial to enriching their understanding of the text, and ultimately their external scholarship exam in December.
Our humbled thanks must go to Mr Gough and Mrs Restieaux for making this trip, and the written script, a reality.
A trip to the Globe is a must for all!
Written by Joyce Chan