story takes a firm grip on its audience
The Hulk isn't
the only big guy dealing with anger management
problems this summer.
On a small stage at tucked-away
New Theatre in Coral Gables, one of classic
theater's tragically flawed figures is again
surrendering to his own kind of green -- the
murderous jealousy William Shakespeare famously
dubbed the ``green-eyed monster.''
Othello is back.
On the heels of last summer's
box office-potent production of Hamlet, the
ambitious little theater company is taking on
another of Shakespeare's great tragedies, again
pulling it off.
Director Rafael de Acha's 10-actor,
artfully edited version of Othello is starkly simple
in conception, yet it demonstrates that the four-century-old
tale of a Moorish military man, his fair-skinned wife
and the devil who engineers their destruction remains
an incredibly gripping way to spend three hours.
Howard Schumsky's set design -- faux-marble
platforms, stairs and arched entrances curtained in
filmy black -- is an unadorned backdrop to the action,
though Travis Neff's lighting provides an emotional
commentary, and M. Anthony Reimer's original music
becomes the aural equivalent of Neff's subtle work.
Estela Vrancovich's costumes, with a few pointed exceptions,
involve black, black and more black.
But from the moment that actor Carlos
Orizondo begins to fill that empty space with the
words that spell out Iago's venomous conniving, New
Theatre's Othello is off and running, hurtling with
finesse and dramatic firepower to its horrifying,
Key to the production's success are
James Randolph's commanding Othello and Orizondo's
scheming Iago, the first a powerful man with matching
passions, the second a masterful human puppeteer.
Randolph, whose voice is a glorious
Shakespearean instrument, is an imposing man even
when he's conveying Othello's ardor for the gentle
Desdemona (Tara Vodihn, first childlike, then genuinely
pitiable). So when he flips into murderous madness,
prodded by the gnat-like buzz of Iago's constant riffs
on Desdemona's alleged infidelity, it feels far less
surprising and more dangerous than the transformation
of other Othellos.
Orizondo knows that Iago is the consummate
actor, and he plays each moment to the hilt, taking
the audience into his confidence, kissing up to the
man he's determined to destroy, savoring every ounce
of both humor and bald villainy. Opposite him as Iago's
wife Emilia, Deborah L. Sherman conveys a complex
mixture of loathing and longing, playing a lightning-quick
game of keep-away with the handkerchief that will
seal Desdemona's doom. And her own.
The Miami Herald
Julio - 2003