I saw this production on July 31st with my old BFF, Gerber. We were sad that my mother couldn’t join us at the last minute. But it was a good time, nevertheless.
I was very glad that I had reread this play before going to see it. I strongly believe that there’s no substitute for this strategy, at least with something like Shakespeare where the language of the play may be a bit foreign. To me, the beauty of a theatre company that really does its Shakespeare properly is that they speak the old English very naturally; but the companion quality, necessary to enjoy it, is the ability to hear it naturally. Having recently read the play, I was able to let the language flow through my head and get all the jokes. (To familiarize yourself, go back and read my review – or, better, go read the whole play!)
I thought the Houston Shakespeare Festival folks did a fine job. Othello was powerful. Iago was odious. Emilia was heroic, more so than in the written play, I felt. Desdemona was more powerful than in print, too: when I read the play she felt like a cowering, simpering, weakly woman, but onstage she came across as a woman with conviction. Granted, her conviction was of love and obedience to her husband, which is not so empowering as one might wish, but still, she spoke with commitment to her values.
I thought the production was wonderful. I was moved. I was also tired, which is a shame, and which I don’t mean as a criticism of the performance at all. But it was past my bedtime, and I drank some wine, and it was dark… Barrett, I guess you’re adding points to my senior card again. Sigh. I wish they could give these plays earlier in the day for us sleepy people, but then it would be too HOT.
The pace of the play was probably a bit slow for me. Maybe that’s my modern-day attention span, although I don’t consider myself to be entirely 21st-century-media-bytes-ADHD. (Can’t stand the Twitter.) Actually, the pacing bothered me a bit in print, too. Maybe it’s knowing what’s going to happen. “C’mon! Strangle her! Tell him how Cassio got the handkerchief! TELL HIM!” At any rate, I had a nice time, although I was out later than usual. And it’s a lovely, deeply tragic play, both on the page and on the stage.