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Previewed 11 September 2009, Opened 18 September 2009, Closed 12 December 2009 at the Trafalgar Studios in London
The Northern Broadsides and West Yorkshire Playhouse production of William Shakespeare's play Othello in London, starring Lenny Henry in the title role.
Love, racism, jealousy and desire are at the emotional core of Shakespeare's monumental tragedy, a tender love story shattered by one man's obsessive hatred of another. Othello is noble, brave and victorious. Iago, passed over for a position in the army, fuels his diabolical revenge with hatred and snarling racism. Poignant, intense and heartbreaking, Othello mercilessly explores every inch of the human condition.
Northern Broadsides' Othello is propelled by the dramatic voltage of a company of actors renowned for their grit, vigour and believability. The cast for Othello in London features Lenny Henry as 'Othello', Conrad Nelson as 'Iago' and Jessica Harris as 'Desdemona'. The production is directed by Barrie Rutter with music by Conrad Nelson, designs by Ruari Murchison, costumes by Stephen Snell and lighting by Guy Hoare.
"[Lenny Henry's] Othello is a dignified chieftain: his huge body and the way he carries it are a natural expression of his character, a soldier, straightforward and frank, a stranger to duplicity and at peace with himself. At the age of 50, this is Henry's debut as a stage actor, but he looks and sounds as if he had been one all his life... What is not there yet is the rhythm and colour of poetry; but he gives Othello a sense of grave innocence... Barrie Rutter's clean, unfussy production serves the play admirably." The Sunday Times
"Henry's shaven-headed Othello is an imposing figure, high and mighty, beside whom all the other characters look puny and insignificant... While there's not much music in his versespeaking, there's considerable feeling... It's not a revelatory performance in any sense, but an extraordinary, impressive and truly heroic achievement, which plainly articulates the tragedy of a man 'who loved not wisely but too well'... He is by far the best thing in Rutter's otherwise merely serviceable production, which could do with more atmosphere, tension and a deeper exploration of character and motive." The Mail on Sunday
"Lenny Henry's Moor is a tame and slightly cartoonish old bear. His warm regional accent adds to the general sense of cosy but sexless amiability... At one point, Othello addresses Desdemona as 'sweetie'. He might as well have gone the whole hog and said, 'Put the kettle on, love.' It makes me wonder if Shakespeare can't sometimes be made too accessible. Some of the great speeches of the play seemed suddenly prosaic rather than poetic. Still, Henry makes the best of what he has and proves, beyond all doubt, that he is a proper, fully paid-up actor." The Sunday Telegraph
"As Othello, Lenny Henry is - in every sense - a towering presence. I loved his booming delivery, his passion and his capacity for stillness... What is best about the evening is the overwhelming sense of the love between Othello and Desdemona and Henry's comic gift underpins his tenderness. He picks Desdemona up playfully like a little doll, tickles her, swings her through the air - his beloved toy. And for most of the evening, he sweeps the audience off its feet too." The Observer
Othello in London at the Trafalgar Studios previews from 11 September 2009, opens on 18 September 2009 and closes on 12 December 2009. (Transfer from West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds where it previewed from 14 February 2009, opened on 18 February 2009 and closed on 14 March 2009 after which it went on a short UK tour visiting The Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough from 17 to 21 March 2009; The Belgrade Theatre in Coventry from 7 to 11 April 2009; The Theatre Royal Bath from 14 to 18 April 2009; The Rose Theatre in Kingston-upon-Thames from 21 to 25 April 2009; The New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme from 28 April to 2 May 2009; and The Viaduct Theatre in Halifax from 5 to 10 May 2009.)