I do not know one person who hasn’t liked the current National Theatre’s production of Othello in London. Rory Kinnear as Iago and Adrian Lester as Othello were perfect casting.
What is so good is that both men play these men as ‘everyman’ – there are aspects of both whom we can identify with. Othello stands strong and is great at holding other peoples’ situations together:
but when it comes to holding his own when he is falsely led, he is less controlled. By the end he has positively lost control:
A man such as Iago, whom Othello should see through, is someone who upsets him so much so that Othello makes the terrible mistake of losing his authority to him. When you think about it, this is an extremely realistic situation – the steadfast person with the strong heart, deep soul and value-led conscience, is the person most likely to be influenced by the fickleness of life and people. The harder we love, the harder we hurt others, and ourselves.
Adrian Lester is one massive presence on a stage or screen. He is an awesome actor with a big singing voice too and his exposure of the characters he is playing – whether as Othello in Othello or as Bobby in Sondheim’s ‘Company’, are a sight and sound to behold:
As Bobby in Company singing ‘Being Alive’ in a tribute concert to Sondheim
As he sings ‘Being Alive’ he reminds us, both as Adrian Lester and as the characters he plays, what it is to be alive.
It was brilliant to see the play The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time do so well at the Olivier Awards last month. The play is based on the book of the same name by Mark Haddon. It is about a boy with Aspergo’s Syndrome and his journey to try and find out who killed the neighbour’s dog. The Director of the play Marianne Elliot also described the creation of the play as an ‘experimental journey’.
It reinforces the need to invest in the arts – this play won 7 Olivier Awards and is a sure commercial success. Its experimental journey in devising was truly worthy and it is a double journey as it takes the audience on one too. Not only is it bringing money into the city but it is nurturing talent – that talent will grow and go on to develop. It is what you call a domino effect. Our creative culture is who we are and if we stop creating (or stop having the money to create) we stop being people because we stop understanding ourselves.
There is no ‘app’ on your smart phone to tell you how your soul is doing. There never will be (thankfully) since we have to discover this for ourselves. The writer Zoe Bennett talks of a distinction between eye sight and heart sight – or between sight and insight. It takes time, effort and courage to have insight and everyday life rarely offers it. Plays do offer it. Actor Sir Ben Kingsley says ‘Without a mask I haven’t got a clue. Give a man a mask and he will tell you the truth.’
It is hard for people to be honest about themselves and others in real life for fear of judgement (and society does judge) – again the paradox of ‘make believe’ is that the truth about being human can be explored.