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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    ‘Othello’ misses point of tragedy

    Just before he commits suicide in the fifth act of Shakespeare’s “”Othello,”” the title character laments that he loved his wife, whom he just murdered, “”not wisely, but too well.””

    Unfortunately for Shakespeare lovers, The Rogue Theatre seems to have loved the play neither wisely nor very well at all.

    The Rogue’s production of “”Othello”” could generously be called uneven. While a few actors gave admirable performances, the production was listless and dull — an impressive feat considering the near-perfect script the cast was working with. In fact, it often seemed as though the actors had not actually read that script, instead focusing on their individual roles with little understanding of how they fit into the overall plot.

    The most disappointing element of the production is Othello himself. In order for his passionate relationship with Desdemona to make sense, Othello should be a commanding, worldly character, totally in control of himself, with the tragedy stemming from the villain Iago’s ability to shake that complete self-confidence.

    Unfortunately, Nathan Crocker’s Othello doesn’t fit the bill. He stomps and postures across the stage with a peacock-like overconfidence. Rather than command, he boasts and whines his way through his powerfully written dialogue. Sadly, although Avis Judd tries valiantly as Desdemona to rectify the dynamic of their relationship, it simply makes no sense. The audience has no reason to care whether they survive as a couple, having little idea of why they’re together in the first place. This makes the devastating conclusion befuddling and robs the tragedy of its power.

    Almost as disappointing is Joseph McGrath’s Iago. Shakespeare’s most compelling villain, Iago is pure, delicious evil, weaving a web of honey-tongued lies across the stage and ensnaring the rest of the players in it. However, McGrath’s Iago is less evil mastermind and more mischievous grandfather. He reveals his unconscionable plans as flippant afterthoughts, robbing them of everything that makes them terrifying. In fact, Iago comes across as substantially more fun and likeable than Othello himself, further muddling what is meant to be a tragedy. The production began to feel a bit spoofy at times, with the audience accidentally rooting for a charming underdog rather than despising a nefarious villain.

    Both Judd and Patty Gallagher, as Emilia, attempt to redeem this baffling, boring production. Their scenes together capture the requisite tension as Desdemona prepares for what will soon be her deathbed. John Shartzer is quite good as Roderigo, a sniveling would-be rival for Desdemona’s love, and David Morden’s Brabantio is truly enjoyable as he laments his daughter’s marriage to the Moor. In fact, Brabantio’s offstage death is more compelling than Othello’s suicide. Unfortunately, the fine supporting cast cannot save an ultimately sinking ship.

    “”Othello”” fails to deliver, and its final scene, so rich with possibility for pathos, instead leaves the audience puzzled but relieved it’s all over.

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