I have talked about the favourite productions of The Merchant of Venice and The Tempest that I have seen live - My favourite version of The Merchant of Venice was the National Theatre's 1999 production starring Henry Goodman as Shylock, and my favourite version of The Tempest was the Almeida's 2000/2001 production.
Firstly, I want to showcase an Othello limited edition print by Mychael Barratt which I am now lucky enough to own:
Picture credit: http://www.ponyhide.com/mychaelbarratt/shakespeare.html
Secondly, I will move onto my all time favourite version of Othello, which I saw this February (2011) at the Barons Court Theatre. The production was by the Swivel Theatre Company.
Picture credit: http://othello-live.co.uk/
The production starred El Razzougui as Othello, Tom Fava as Iago, Devon Lang Wilton as Desdemona, and Tom Stanley as Cassio.
So what was so good about this production of Othello?
1) Outstanding acting across the whole of the cast, but in particular Tom Fava as Iago and Tom Stanley as Cassio;
2) Mind blowingly good verse speaking across the whole of the cast, conveying both the beauty and the meaning of the verse; and
3) Amazing use of the theatre (Barons Court Theatre) in that the theatre became part of the set and one of the characters in the piece. You were up close and personal to the action, and there were several points in the production where the actors weaved in and out of the audience, so that you became a part of the production.
Swivel's strapline is: Classic theatre … with a twist. Their aim is to perform two shows a year, and to support various charities and local projects through their work. They want to inspire people to love theatre as much as they do.
Swivel Theatre Company began because a household of slightly bored Londoners were desperate for some good theatre … so they decided to produce it themselves. Sitting round the kitchen table one evening the idea of Swivel was born …
Othello was their first production. The director was a first time director (Diyan Zora) and the producer a first time producer (Christina Turner). They all have full time jobs and put this production together in their evenings and weekends. They are a bunch of 20 something Londoners. They are young, lively, enthusiastic, outgoing, fun and passionate about theatre.
They are here:
Othello is here:
Please do check these websites out. They have videos which show how they went about planning and putting the production on. They have interviews with their cast. They have a video of how they put their fight sequences together.
Anyway, they are AMAZING – check them out and tell me what you think!!!
Finally, I am sharing an email that I sent to the Swivel Theatre Company the day after I saw their production of Othello. It clearly shows how impressed I was with the production and my enthusiasm and passion for their work. I have never in my 20 years of theatre going written in to a theatre company about their production; for example I have never written in to the National. However, after seeing their production of Othello, I just had to write in to Swivel!
Dear Swivel Theatre Company
I am a major London theatre geek and have been hacking around the London theatre circuit for about 20 years. I am a Supporting Cast Member at the National, a friend of the Old Vic, and a friend of the Globe. Last night I saw your production of Othello at the Barons Court Theatre.
To put it simply, I was blown away by it – it is OUTSTANDING.
I knew nothing about you and went to see the production purely because it was Othello. I am an Othello obsessive and every time there is a production of Othello in London I am there!!!
I had assumed (wrongly as it turns out) that you were a youth theatre company. Anyway, you were amazing … outstanding … genius!!!
I have seen over 50% of the productions that the RSC are currently fronting at the Roundhouse. Your production of Othello blew the RSC out of the water!!!
All the actors were outstanding but in particular I wanted to mention Tom Stanley as Cassio and Tom Fava as Iago. Please tell them both that I loved them!!! I have seen countless productions of Othello and they are by far and away the best Cassio and Iago I have seen in a long long time!!!
Anyway, what I would like to say was that I would like to find out more about you and get involved. Is this possible? Let me know how best to take this forward.
Best wishes and very well done on such a sensational production!!!