You get to see all sorts in the Kazimier, but Shakespeare is a first – and in the hands of Trickster Theatre it is a perfect fit. The club’s layout provides a natural set up for performing in the round, and its split levels make for ready-made balconies and even an orchestra pit. Plonk Othello in a modern day army setting – not so much that the device is laboured – and you’ve got something classic that suits the ultra-hip venue to the ground.
Any company tackling the Bard will say at some point their aim is to make it accessible; Trickster puts it that it’s about “telling a good story well”. And that they do – despite a bum-numbing three hour show all-in (of a play I’d only seen two weeks previously from Chester Performs) this production really worked in wrapping the audience up in a strong, absorbing tale.
Cellan Scott’s Iago is at the heart of this, a hugely charismatic, edgy and menacing performance that drew in the audience completely and showed a mastery and confidence of the text that was quite something to watch. His Iago was psychotically hell-bent on destruction, the lack of rhyme or reason making him even more unhinged. In his soliloquies he as much as broke the fourth wall, seemingly as much to play with the crowd as much as the other characters, and when he vowed “from this time forward I will never speak word” – well, that didn’t mean he couldn’t taunt the traumatised onlookers with maniacal laughter. It’s a fantastic interpretation.
Iago’s scenes with Cassio (Jack Darrell) and Desdemona (an excellent performance from Elena Stephenson) were among the best, as these three in particular brought a remarkable clarity to the text. Once Leroy Liburd’s Othello warmed up he measured the Moor’s torment well; resulting in the kind of dramatic climax that really puts the audience through the wringer – the kind of powerful final scenes you really wish would play out differently despite knowing full well the outcome.
Othello is on at the Kazimier until August 30.