3 Min Read

An Epic Rendition: Otello

Otello has all the makings of a classic Shakespeare story – the death, the deceit, and the passion in all directions. This rendition falls a little short on the love aspect of passion but the anger and associated feels are all there. As far as I’m concerned, the WA Opera is performing ‘The Iago Show’. The audience obviously agreed with me when he was met with half boos and half cheers as he bowed at the end of the performance. The wicked grin never escaped Jose Carbo’s face as he received the unforgiving accolades. As someone at the bar during intermission aptly put it, “that Iago is a jerk, isn’t he?”

Otello. Photography by Dylan Alcock from West Beach Studio.

From the moment the show opens, the audience is met with a massive production expertly spanning every cubed centimetre of His Maj’s. A set of stairs dominates most of the width and height of the stage and is adorned with a carpeted cross, creating beautiful religious imagery and clever optical illusions to make the actors appear closer or farther away. Miranda Summers makes great use of this excellent staging and has directed the character movements in flawless synchronicity with the music. The pacing is perfect. The positioning of the actors, including the chorus in their parts, makes great use of the space by utilising echoes to permeate the relevant mood for each scene. 

Otello. Photography by Dylan Alcock from West Beach Studio.

Nicholas Jones’ performance as Cassio stands out, as he drunkenly sways with such conviction that I felt he was going to tumble down the stairs in the first act. From the moment he swoops onto the stage, he has a magnetism with every character he interacts with. The central relationship between Iago and Otello is enthralling and you can cut the tension between them with a knife. Likewise, the relationship between Desdemona and Emilia stands out, more so than the relationships between them and their respective lovers. Ashlyn Tymms as Emilia is also a standout. She shines in her scenes alone and with Desdemona.

Otello. Photography by Dylan Alcock from West Beach Studio.

With such harrowing lows and grandiose displays of emotion, I’m ready to hibernate after watching such an epic performance. It is an iconic Italian rendition, from the bellowing exclamations to the spitting on your frenemies.

Otello is presented by West Australian Opera and is on at His Majesty’s Theatre from now to July 29.