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.

2 Replies to “60-second review: OTHELLO (Philly Shakes)”
  1. I saw the Othello play with Chris Munden and wondered why he was taking notes. He seemed quite involved and it is no surprise to me that he wrote a very perceptive review. I shall recommend to my own “users” at jayboy322@wordpress.com that they look into Phindie.com for some collateral reviews. It is always best to have more than one opinion.

    To nit-pick I did not buy the set; it looked like the outer wall of the Moyamensing Prison; more could have been done. Also the murder of Desdamona took far too long. A 30 second jerk of her head would have been enough. Strangling and smothering her for about 5 minutes made Shakespeare’s fantasy into Law & Order: Special Victims. I do compliment the diction; every syllable was nicely heard. The Iago character was so good I could have jumped from my seat and strangled him!
    John T. D’Alessandro Ph.D.

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