Othello, Norwich

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Director Neil Sheppeck chooses to set the tragedy in the Falkland Islands 20 years ago.

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

As if to make up for starting 10 minutes late, Othello goes off at top speed. Fortunately we all know the plot, so it doesn't matter much that the words can hardly be caught in the opening exchanges. After that though there is still a good deal of hurrying, the pace slowing at key moments.

For this Love & Madness Production, director Neil Sheppeck chooses to set the tragedy in the Falkland Islands 20 years ago. The intention praiseworthy in itself, is to appeal to a younger public. Unfortunately the transposition, which currently has topical resonances, is not carried through very persuasively.

A point is made of giving the role of the Duke to a commanding woman, while the men wear uniforms with insignia of rank and occasionally snap to attention. But bare shoulders and flimsy dresses for the females suggest summer in the Mediterranean rather than the chilly South Atlantic. The banner of St George is more reminiscent of the World Cup than the liberation of Port Stanley. Shakespeare rhetoric remains a problem too, with the longer soliloquies in particular seeming out of key.

Iago, played by Sheppeck himself, is naturally the centre of attention while Patrick Regis' Othello is a colossus lapsing into incoherence. After finding no better response to his madness than embarrassed giggles, a large Playhouse audience, predominately of sixth formers, redeemed itself to enthusiastic applause at the end.

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