REVIEW: Shakespearean tragedy shines at the Phoenix

UVic theatre crew hits the right notes with Othello, writes Sheila Martindale

Sheila Martindale

Monday Magazine reviewer

One of the reasons Shakespeare’s plays have survived the centuries is that human nature has not changed. People are still driven by insecurities and hate, by mistrust of anyone different from the norm; there is still resentment and greed; and love still has the power both to unite and to divide.

It is interesting to note that Othello has never been performed at the University of Victoria’s Phoenix Theatre before. It is worth the wait!

Director Brian Richmond has pulled this enormous cast together and made it run like clockwork. Those with speaking roles are word-perfect, and everyone is movement-perfect. The set, designed by Conor Farrell and Logan Swain, consists of huge archways and sets of stairs being moved around to form whatever venue is required. Brilliant! Of course the Dan George Theatre-in-the-round, with its many exits and entrances, provides a perfect space for free movement of both people and props.

Emily Friesen takes credit for the costumes, perfectly co-ordinated and appropriate to the era. Olivia Wheeler directs the musicians, whose outfits complement those of the actors, as they mix in on the stage, or appear discreetly at the side, playing wonderful Baroque music.

Tallas Munro is impressive in the title role, with a fabulous stage presence, and Ciaran Volke puts out a great performance as Iago. Georgia Duff brings a mixture of imperiousness and innocence to the difficult role of Desdemona. Una Rekic plays the male role of Cassio well, but appeared mis-cast.

Voice coach Michael Elliot has chosen to assign an accent to the servant class, an odd mixture of Scottish and Irish, which actually does little to help our understanding of the text. Here would be a good spot to mention Grace Fedorchuk, playing Emilia with dignity and compassion.

This is an ambitious production, proving again the wonderful value of UVic’s drama program. Over the years it has been a privilege to see the graduates moving onward and upward to appear with theatre companies here and elsewhere.

Othello is a long show – count on approximately three hours including the intermission – but it is one you will not want to miss. It runs at the Phoenix until Nov. 23. For tickets visit the Phoenix Theatre box office in person or call 250-721-8000 to charge by phone.



editor@mondaymag.com

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