Monday 27 October 2014

Frantic Assembly's Othello

This production of Othello by Frantic Assembly is being revived and will tour the UK later this year and in 2015. I missed it first time around but will (as the fizzier newspaper critics like to say) "kill to get a ticket" because for once this is a Shakespeare production worth reviving. It takes place in a youth club, complete with flickering fruit machine and pool table, a downbeat urban setting that is entirely appropriate, not least because Iago has always struck me as a malign and stroppy teenager and the emotional conflict at the heart of the play is adolescent, over-wrought.

Revivals of popular productions are surprisingly uncommon in theatre, unlike remakes of films, or even revivals of opera or ballet productions. Of course one reason is the availability of actors and the need for theatre constantly to renew itself and offer new sensations to the audience. But would it not be worthwhile, say, to re-stage Peter Brook's hugely influential production of A Midsummer Night's Dream? Or Orson Welles's voodoo Macbeth and fascistic, modern dress Julius Caesar? Or the fondly-remembered National Theatre production of Tom Stoppard's superb Jumpers?

The nearest we get, I suppose, is the never-changing Mouse Trap. If you want an idea of what West End theatre was like half a century ago it's dispiritingly there for all to see. Although I've sometimes wondered what a really first-rate A-List cast might bring to Agatha Christie's old warhorse.

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