60-second review: OTHELLO (Philly Shakes)

Forrest McClendon and J Hernandez star as Othello and Iago in Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre’s OTHELLO (Photo credit: Chris Miller)
In most of Shakespeare’s tragedies, the characters are overtaken by the swirl of events, following fate to their bloody end. A notable exception is OTHELLO, now onstage at Philadelphia Shakespeare Theatre. The villainous Iago (J Hernandez) drives the action, snaring noble Othello (Forrest McClendon) in a web of deceit. A strong production relies on a outstanding performances by the two leads. Hernandez and McClendon deliver. Hernandez shuns the wit and language-play seen in some of the best Iagos, but controls the play with an engaging intensity—his is a thoroughly convincing villain. McClendon is superb: anger, jealousy, and desperation bubbling through the clearly spoken language without washing away the Moor’s gravitas. The rest of the cast struggle to match their performances, but succeed en mass in a thoroughly satisfying second act.

Last season’s TITUS ANDRONICUS disappointed in a wash of puppetry, a shame because the villain Aaron is Iago’s only equal in the Bard’s canon. OTHELLO provides welcome redemption. March 13 – May 18, 2013. phillyshakespeare.org.

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About the author

Christopher Munden

Your faithful correspondent and publisher Christopher Munden has written and edited for many publications, websites, and cultural institutions. He was an editor/publisher of the Philly Fiction book series, collections of short stories written by local writers and set in Philadelphia. He's also a soccer coach and a pretty good skier.