Review: Othello, Upstairs at the Gatehouse

“O god that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away their brains”

Playing in rep with Twelfth Night at Highgate’s Upstairs at the Gatehouse theatre, Arrows and Traps’ Othello sees them take a slightly different approach to the tragedy, one which is closer to the way in which they reimagined Macbeth earlier this year. Modernised and musicalised, Will Pinchin’s movement plays a key role in the elegant tenor of Ross McGregor’s visually stimulating production.

Much less of an ensemble show than Twelfth Night, Othello offers an interesting contrast in featuring leading performances, even if they are somewhat uneven. Spencer Lee Osborne’s Othello is fascinatingly insecure which offers a route into his emotional journey, if not quite convincing that he could ever become a general. And Pippa Caddick’s Desdemona responds well to this intensity, playing up her innocence but never cloyingly so.

But it is Pearce Sampson’s malevolent Iago who really stands out in his manipulations, alongside Cornelia Baumann as his brutalised wife Emilia unable to find her voice until far too late in a most affecting way. McGregor’s staging, split into three, cleverly makes the most of the limited space at the Gatehouse and encourages a paciness which this show often needs and if in the end I preferred Twelfth Night, the whole rep season is an impressively ambitious move from a company it is well worth watching.

Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (with interval)
Photo: The Ocular Collective
Booking until 18th November

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