When I see the name Rory Kinnear…..
…….I invariable read it as Roy Kinnear…..
………who i then get mixed up with Roy Barraclough……
………..and so the only image I had in my head when approaching OTHELLO at the National Theatre was this….
….which really wasn’t at all helpful.
Still, while googling for this pic, I found out that Rory Kinear is actually the son of Roy Kinnear and I can now see the resemblance so I have learnt something. And so have you…that my brain works in a very roundabout way.
This is going to be a very superficial review of OTHELLO as I’m in that sort of mood: a bullet point sort of mood.
- Roy Kinnear, as well as looking like his dad, looks very like Ben Miller
- You can’t get a bad seat at the National
- Desdemona is a bit wet
- Young boys will love this production as they will get a good glimpse of knickers and bum cheeks (pity I didn’t take you, Charlie!)
I never thought I’d say this but I’ve run out of bullet points after only four. I am ashamed of myself.
I had high hopes of this production. I really wanted to love it, especially as I’ve never seen OTHELLO before, but I felt a little deflated when walking out of the theatre. This is going to be a bit of a contentious view, but was Adrian Lester really up to the part?
He certainly has the stentorious voice for it and in the first half he has the presence too, but as Othello begins to wallow in the ‘green eyed custard’ (or some such) he loses his way. Admittedly, Shakespeare doesn’t help. The Moor’s fall from self-assured soldier and lover to self-consumed adolescent boy isn’t exactly even. One minute he’s all ‘I’m invincible, me’: the next ‘I just want to curl up and die…or kill Desdemona’.
By the time we get to the crucial scene, Lester, as well as Othello, has lost the plot. Or….ORRRRR….I missed something, and I’m always more than willing to admit that this may well be the case.
There was no coherence to his grief. I know this could be seen as a very clever acting ploy ie: there IS no coherence in grief, especially when coupled with madness and murder, but I just didn’t believe his performance. Admittedly I was being very VERY distracted by Desdemona flashing her very VERY tiny knickers while she thrashed around under her husband. I can usually ignore little distractions, but this was a bloody MASSIVE one! The kids under 15 in the audience giggled nervously: the kids over 15 did exactly the same. There was no getting around it. Imagine Lear railing against the wind with his bollocks hanging out of his loincloth. Yes, Olivia Vinall’s nether regions were THAT DISTRACTING. So you end up watching a woman being smothered to death and all you can think of is ‘I wish my bum looked like that’. Not good. And Desdemona is such a wet weekend in this production that you don’t feel as engaged as you should do in the first place. But back to basics. Set in Cyprus, in modern day battle dress (in the army and the boardroom), Hytner bows out of the National as he bowed in; with Lester in the lead. Running at 3 hours 20, this Othello jumps along. The set is all military base concrete, and bogs, and souless offices, and pin-up covered barrack rooms. People arrive to the buzz of helicopters, and guns are ubiquitous. We’re never told exactly what motivates Iago to be such a sod, apart from him thinking that Othello has been tupping his wife (played by the wonderful Lyndsey Marshal from ‘Garrow’s Law’ – which I loved!) but it’s all a bit woolly. Really, he’s just one of life’s bastards. He’s a real military lad in this production, a swaggering nasty festering piece of work, played perfectly by Kinnear who is the stand out. As to the supporting cast, I adored the Hooray Henriness of Tom Robertson’s hapless Roderigo, while Jonathan Bailey as Cassio radiated such an innocent goodness and wholesomeness that I wanted to take him home and feast on him.
Get in quick if you want tickets to this as the reviews have been pretty universally positive. I believe they’ve just released some more for the run’s summer continuation. I’d love to see it again, if anyone wants to take me. Go on, you know you really REALLY want to…..and we could do our own impressions of Cissie and Ada as we walked in! Now that’s my idea of fun!