A Directory of Shakespeare in Performance, 1970–1990 pp 1309-1366 | Cite as
I have contemplated Othello as an exotic, a stranger, a pantaloon, a victim, a fool… a black hero in a white melodrama, a sun-tanned Walter Huston, a liver-lipped Laurence Olivier, a magnificently bullish Paul Robeson, and as a second-rate hero among A. C. Bradley’s “big four” But I was not prepared for the pagan gentility, the curtailed then unleashed barbarousness of [Sydney] Hibbert’s Othello. Here is an actor who is devoted to the detail of character construction—the construction from modest storytelling (“Her father lov’d me, oft invited me;/Still questioned me the story of my life”), through quiet authority, through steely authority (“Hold for your lives!”), through laughing security (“O misery!”), through rational security (“I’ll see before I doubt”), through genuine dilemma, through a disintegration of personality which commands the trance (the most real I have seen), through hellish whorehouses of the mind, through putting out the light, and to an eloquently cathartic “Soft you; a word or two before you go”… Henry Hoffman’s Iago was as unique as Hibbert’s Othello. Hoffman began by assuring us that it is all good fun, that he is the coy-boy, the puppet-masten As such he played for laughs with sure technique. And he managed the usual Iago triumph in the temptation scenes. But something went sour in his imagination and he conveyed this marvelously in the last disordered scene (the only unfocused scene in the production) and his muteness became a triumph, not of evil but of almost tragic self-consciousness. Ivar Brogger as Roderigo was a superb Venetian jock-strap; his absurd innocence was apparent—no namby pamby, just dumb desire. Cassio, as played by Scott Porter, was exactly handsome, exactly remorseful, and exactly right.
KeywordsOpening Date Black Actor Final Scene String Quartet Genuine Dilemma
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