Theatre review: Othello @ Everyman Theatre Liverpool
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Othello – a tale of an Elizabethan era man, forced into madness because of jealousy? Think again; in this production, Othello is a tale of modern women. Well, at least a woman, married to the delicate Desdemona and general of a 21st century Venetian army. This is exactly what the Everyman Theatre company has given us: with the use of mobile phones, a drunken club night and lesbian lovers, it has ‘spun’ Shakespeare’s original story into very much a 21st century context, giving us a tale for the ‘me too’ generation(s), with this Iago motivated by envying someone who’d broken a ‘glass ceiling’. Othello gives us the character of Desdemona, a representation of a typical 16th century woman: delicate, polite, feminine, submissive. However, isn’t Gemma Bodinetz’s female Othello, convincingly apposite for a time where gender boundaries are becoming increasingly blurred, in a time in which our Heads of State and Government are female? So why shouldn’t Othello be played by a woman? She is Golda Rosheuvel, not playing a man, nor being a female actor simply to satisfy some notion of ‘equality’, to replace the typical masculinity of Othello: she is playing Othello as who she is, a woman, and in doing so, not only challenging sexual norms, but recasting the play in a new light; one that poses significant questions concerning gender and identity. And Rosheuvel does so brilliantly; the standout performer on the night; one really believed her internal conflict, her spiral into madness and the slow and painful deterioration of the honourable Othello’s character and dignity, right up until the very end, before which the psychological toll manifests as an act so hideously out of character by the “noble Moor”.
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