I understand a fury in your words, but not the words

There is always something to delight in during a performance at Shakespeare’s Globe, and the thing I enjoyed most last week was looking at Cassio whenever the opportunity arose (he was really rather attractive). 

Well,  Cassio was almost the thing I enjoyed most. The play was good, but not up to the usual Globe standard.  If you have never been to Shakespeare’s Globe, there is nothing like it for seeing Shakespeare. The Globe was the theatre Shakespeare owned a share in during his lifetime, and it was rebuilt a few years ago a short distance from its original location on the banks of the Thames. As the original Globe would have been built, the new theatre was constructed using only wood and thatch – even the nails used to hold the walls up are wooden! The whole thing is beautiful, and the plays are done with minimal use of props, usually in full Elizabethan costume and since the theatre has no roof, in the open air. There is also a house band, if you will, who wear Elizabethan dress and play Elizabethan tunes on Elizabethan instruments and are generally greatly loved by the audience (they tend to be a bit cheeky).  

But back to Othello; The Observer raved about how Tim McInnerny (Lord Percy from Blackadder) was ‘brilliantly cast’ as Iago, but as far as I could see, there was a lot of shouting and semi-energetic dashing about the stage and no real passion behind his character. Not badly done, but unremarkable. One of the things I love about plays at the Globe is the way the audience is always drawn into the play, whether through sneaky asides from the characters or by having to leap back as someone on stage sloshes wine or blood about freely in the general direction of the standing audience (Titus Andronicus last year was bloody brilliant, emphasis on the bloody). McInnerny had so many opportunities to make more of his role and really make Iago real for the audience, but he failed to do so. Perhaps he thought if he tried to bring humour into the play by involving the audience it would be too reminiscent of Lord Percy, his character in Blackadder – although I think that would have been rather funny myself. Desdemona on the other hand, was excellent – some actors/actresses have the ability to completely become a character and make you feel everything they feel and see their passions, and Desdemona was very adept at doing so. The performance overall wasn’t overtly bad, but it dragged a little at times. My personal feeling is that Othello took far too long over killing Desdemona and lost a lot of dramatic tension as a result.

Some Othello trivia: I learned that the phrase ‘green eyed monster’ has been around for longer than I gave it credit for (never having given it much consideration before now); Othello is ironically warned by Iago to “beware my Lord, of jealousy; it is the green eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.”

 Here is a link to the Globe’s Othello page. The photos at the top of the page are 1) Iago and Desdemona, 2) Cassio and Bianca and 3) Othello about to kill Desdemona.



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8 responses to “I understand a fury in your words, but not the words

  1. I’ve always regretted that I only got to the Globe once while we were in London, but like you said it’s the best place to see Shakespeare. I saw Twelfth Night and it was good fun.

  2. He is rather dishy isn’t he?! Did you make it to Marylebone High Street on this trip?

  3. Tanabata, if you saw the same performance of Twelfth Night I did, it was amazing! The one with the all male cast and Mark Rylance as Olivia? That is definitely my favourite so far.

    Equiano, I didn’t make it to Marylebone High Street this trip, although it is still on my list for next time. It is scary how everything in London just seems to take so much time – getting from A to B is often a long walk/time consuming tube journey.

  4. Othello is one of my absolute favorite Shakespeare plays – how lovely that you went to see it. That’s a shame about McInnerny, however, because Iago is such a wonderful character and the one I watch the most when I go to see a production of Othello. I’m jealous of your globetrotting!

  5. Hi there just stumbled acrosss your blog and had to comment on this post! I went to the new Globe for the first time last weekend and thought it was great. We went for the tour and our guide really brought the place alive for us. We also got to them finishing preparations for the evenings performance and some of the actors doing some warm ups. Me and my OH plan to head back soon and catch a performance.

  6. I saw Richard II at the Globe and it was without a doubt the single most memorable experience I had while in London.

  7. Trinity

    Mmmm, I wonder whereabouts in the Globe you were to have formed such an impression? I saw it recently, starting off at the side of the stage, and I think if I’d stayed there, I’d have thought the same as you.

    But then I moved round the front, and frankly, I thought Tim was awesome. Iago made perfect sense in every way, in his interpretation; so did Othello’s trust in him.

    Have to agree with you absolutely about Cassio, though! What a gorgeous bloke. I’m going to see it again just before the end of the run… lovely!

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