Reviews are in for Clint Dyer’s 2022 production of Othello at the National Theatre starring Giles Terera.
Clint Dyer, deputy artistic director of the National Theatre, directs Giles Terera (Hamilton, Death of England: Face to Face) in the title role of Shakespeare’s tragedy of passion, jealousy, and race.
Rosy McEwen (The Alienist) and Paul Hilton (The Inheritance) star alongside Terera as Desdemona and Iago.
The cast features Jack Bardoe (as Roderigo), Rory Fleck Byrne (as Cassio), Kirsty J Curtis (as Bianca), Tanya Franks (as Emilia), Gareth Kennerley (as Montano/Ensemble), Martin Marquez (as Duke of Venice), Amy Newton (as Ensemble), Steffan Rizzi (as Gentleman 3/1st Senator/Ensemble) and Jay Simpson (as Brabantio).
The production has set design by Chloe Lamford, costume design by Michael Vale and lighting design Jai Morjaria. Music and Sound is by Pete Malkin and Benjamin Grant, movement director is Lucie Pankhurst and the fight director is Kev McCurdy.
Othello plays until 21 January 2023 at the Lyttelton theatre, National Theatre
"Clint Dyer makes this tragedy feel utterly new"
"This Othello plays out as a traditional thriller that occasionally veers into melodrama. A new vision does come though, breathtakingly so, in a radical half-hour at the end when it feels as if Dyer is revealing another play beneath the story we know about jealousy and mistrust. This other play is about the tragedy of domestic violence.It is an almost obvious interpretation, once we have seen and heard it, yet it makes the play feel utterly new."
"This is an Othello which feels unlike any other, its central figure a villain not a hero – a cleaning up of the play, indeed"
"A cold-eyed Iago and a menacing chorus dominate this tragedy"
"In the end, the cascade of arresting visuals wins you over. Clint Dyer’s production — the first Othello from a black director at the National — isn’t particularly subtle about the way it makes race the central theme, but as a visceral piece of theatre, it grabs you by the throat and shakes and shakes until you submit."
"If, in interviews, Dyer has talked about placing Othello at the heart of the piece, it is Hilton who dominates the stage. He gives a remarkable performance"
"Fleet, potent and makes strides for diversity – but too gloomy by half"
"The NT's new staging has a great deal in its favour, but is let down by uneven verse-speaking and a remorselessly sombre ambience"
"Hilton is devilishly hypnotic, Terera gives us muscularity and measured intelligence"
"Why, then, award it only three stars? Well, to be frank, McEwen isn’t the only one in the cast whose verse-speaking can sound too flat. And, for all its over-arching ingenuity, I found the ambience too remorselessly gloomy and divorced from tangible social context."
"Giles Terera shines in this powerful, brutal staging"
"Giles Terera is a superb and mercurial actor, one of our finest. ...he brings force, delicacy and dignity to Shakespeare’s traduced Moor in this powerful, monochromatic staging."
"Desdemona can be a graveyard for the careers of young, slim, blonde, would-be classical actresses. McEwen could be the one who goes beyond it"
Rosy McEwen gives the character more spine and vim than I’ve ever seen before."
"Paul Hilton as Iago, who ignites Othello’s sexual jealousy, is brilliantly insidious – Iago was a master of gaslighting before gaslights were invented. He also resembles an etiolated Oswald Mosley."
"Some parts of the production are overdone: the glaring lighting changes; the moment Iago activates the dormant spectators like robots from Westworld. But ultimately one can’t argue with the subtlety of the three central performances or the brutal logic of Dyer’s production."
"Potently intelligent, intermittently effective landmark Shakespeare staging"
"It is thoughtful rather than seismically moving: Giles Terera is meticulous in the title role, isolated in a racist society and mentally disintegrating, but it is a performance restrained almost to the point of understatement."
"The action never gathers quite enough pace and the delivery of the text is too often bland and workaday."
"A searing staging of ‘Othello’ at the Lyttelton"
"Giles Terera’s Othello is the only black actor in a white cast, foregrounding the racism in the play. And Dyer’s searing staging makes it plain that the story unfolds in a deeply prejudiced society — both racist and misogynist — which plays into Iago’s success."
"In this culture Iago can prosper, and Paul Hilton’s pale, pinched anti-hero has the look of a Mosley black shirt and the bitter logic of a man corroded by hate — a man who delights in stoking others’ fears and biases. Terera brings a feline quality to his Othello: graceful, strong, watchful. But beneath his composure and his delight in Desdemona’s love is insecurity, which Hilton’s Iago nimbly unpacks."
"The heart of Dyer’s staging sits with the two women. Rosy McEwen’s bright, clear-eyed Desdemona meets Othello’s public humiliation of her with defiant outrage: this is a woman who has had the courage to defy the prejudices of her father and society. Tanya Franks’s Emilia, whose bruised cheek and cowed demeanour speak of the violence she suffers at the hands of her husband, Iago, is magnificent as she speaks out to condemn him. Forget military might, forget medals: it is their bravery that holds the stage."