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‘Othello’ is a moving must-see

By Gracy Howard ghoward@idahopress.com | 0 comments

BOISE — Shakespeare’s “Othello” is one of his most moving tragedies; it tells a poignant story of love, insecurity, and the poisonous influence of jealousy. As performed by the Idaho Shakespeare Festival, the play’s depth and beauty create a heartrending performance.

The beautifully crafted monologues, impressive modern sets and clever insertion of music made ISF’s performance both gripping and chilling. As the play drew to its close, its audience was spellbound and gripped with tension as they watched the action unfold. Few performances could deliver a tale so heartbreaking and eery with as much gravity and beauty, yet ISF has succeeded in performing the classic in a new and creative way that still touches the viewer.

The plot

Othello is a black military general in the Venetian army, honored and respected by the senate and renowned for his brave military exploits. When he passes over his right-hand man Iago and promotes Florentine Michael Cassio instead, Iago becomes bitter and jealous. He begins a plot to undo Othello, weaving a web of falsehood around the general. Preying upon the general’s love and insecurity, Iago convinces Othello that his wife Desdemona is unfaithful. By his clever machinations, Iago drives Othello into a jealous rage and convinces him that he must kill Desdemona. Other main characters include Iago’s wife, a clever, worldly woman who is passionately devoted to Desdemona and Roderigo, a bumbling and foolish gentleman of Venice who falls prey to Iago’s lies.

Shakespeare in the military

ISF portrayed “Othello” in modern times, using military uniforms, guns and bowie knives along with the steel structuring of modern buildings. The sets lend a clean-cut, cold aura to the play. The skeletal structure used as a main prop in the play has a rusted, worn look that constantly reminds the watcher of the wearing away of Othello’s character and sanity.

The music is used craftily to build suspense and tensity; used only in the beginning and during Iago’s dialogues, the brooding music has an ominous sound. A deep, throbbing rap beat is also used briefly during a celebration amongst the soldiers. Read more

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