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Creation Theatre Company - Othello

17th April to 30th May 2009.

From Newbury Theatre.

I’d like to say this was a good production of Othello. No, let me go further: this was probably a good production of Othello. But I can’t say for sure, because the acoustics in the New Road Baptist Church were so bad that I could only hear about half of it. Richard Kidd, as Iago, was particularly difficult to understand, which was a pity because he definitely was a good Iago; powerful, wheedling, menacing and generally nasty. 

Victor Power was a rather bland Othello, lacking the authority and charisma that would have given him such a high rank. Ffion Jolly, as Desdemona, played the loyal and devoted wife convincingly. I really enjoyed her performance but she perhaps needed to be a bit less prim and more sexual.

Richard Neal’s Cassio was very stiff and formal, which worked well to distance him from Iago, but he then seemed to undergo a personality change when he was disparaging Bianca. Caroline Devlin was versatile in her three roles including Emilia and Bianca.

For me, the interludes of mime and dance didn’t add anything to the production; the first one, before the play started, was potentially confusing as it assumed some knowledge of what was to come and who the characters were.


From the Newbury Weekly News.

Double cross

Creation Theatre: Othello, at the New Road Baptist Church, Oxford, until May 30

Creation Theatre Company has, over the years, discovered some evocative spaces for their shows. For Charlotte Conquest's production of Shakespeare's Othello, a stage has been found within the austere, white-washed New Road Baptist Church, in Oxford's remodelled Bonn Square, a short walk from Carfax in the city centre.

Conquest is more restrained in her direction than in previous Creation plays, but still infuses plenty of theatrical magic in a setting that conjures up Mussolini's Italy.

It is under the large, metallic cross, with its chaotic crown of thorns that the action takes place. It is here that the handsome, youthful general Othello (Victor Power) will sacrifice his innocent wife Desdemona (Ffion Jolly).

The climax of the play is a double cross, as Othello realises that his "honest" new lieutenant, Iago (Richard Kidd), has betrayed him. Just before Othello commits suicide, he stretches out his arms in a symbolic reference to the cross that hangs above him. It reinforces the double meanings in a play that hides a demon within Desdemona and hell within Othello.

Jolly, a recent drama graduate, acts with an instinctive naturalness, is very pretty and boasts a voice with a seductive lilt. Opposite her, Power indicates that Iago's "I am not what I am" fits Othello too. Ostensibly wise and commanding, the leader loses his rag and his moral bearings all too easily. Othello suffers a terrifying epileptic fit after dreaming that a black negligee-clad Desdemona is involved in a threesome with himself and Cassio. One minor cavil - Power is occasionally indistinct: less power, more clarity.

The Florentine Iago (superb Creation returnee Richard Kidd) is a bald-headed, northern misanthrope, very quick to violence. With his flat vowels and hangdog expression, Iago is a bitter puppeteer futilely pulling the strings of his unwitting puppets. His victims include the suave Cassio (Richard Neale), who unwillingly joins the fateful drinking game which leads to his demotion.

Iago also sacrifices the put-upon Roderigo (Rhys King), and his naive wife Emilia (Creation favourite Caroline Devlin) in his attempt for his will to triumph.

An accessible, well-acted production in a great new venue.


There is a review in The Stage ("one of Creation’s strongest productions to date... highly recommended").