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Haymarket - Othello

7th to 22nd February 2003.

This was the Newbury Weekly News review.

Deadly game of consequences

'OTHELLO', at The Haymarket Theatre, Basingstoke, from Friday, February 7 to Saturday, February 22

Passion and the tragic consequences of human emotions when out of control are the focus of this production, directed by Christopher Fettes.

Shakespeare's tale of Othello, the Moor who murders his wife Desdemona in a fit of jealous rage, is given a contemporary setting, with understated glints of gold and grey, a chrome bar and blond wood floor, in what promises to be, once a few wrinkles are ironed out, a superb production.

Despite a few voice tremors, perhaps opening-night nerves, Ricky Fearon (Othello) delivered tremendous soliloquies, bringing the Bard's poetry vividly to life and holding the audience in his grip.

His vulnerability was highlighted in a highly-original shower scene, when he stripped down to his underpants.

Christopher Middleton brought a Northern twang to lago's speeches, drip-feeding doubt and poisonous thoughts into Othello's ear, in a great performance of a warped and scheming mind. It was a demanding role, and several lengthy speeches were well-delivered.

Mandana Jones' portrayal of Desdemona's increasing bewilderment and despair at her husband's accusations was skilful, with a beautiful rendition of an apt song about a weeping willow.

The time setting was left to the imagination. Soldiers in khaki uniforms sang harmonious barbershop quartets while single hanging lights gave the effect of a bare light bulb in a modern day terrorist prison camp.

Sound effects were used to dramatic effect, including a boat with creaking oars pulling across water, seagulls calling, bites of Italian opera and street music, painting an imaginary picture of Venice.