Two of the UK’s leading physical theatre companies – Filter and Frantic Assembly – will give two Shakespeare classics a modern twist next month, launching tours of Twelfth Night and Othello (pictured) that, respectively, start and finish with London seasons.

For Frantic Assembly, Othello marks the company’s bard debut after 14 years of groundbreaking new work including Stockholm, Dirty Wonderland, Peepshow, Heavenly, Tiny Dynamite and Sell Out. Joint artistic directors Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett have adapted the piece, which relocates the action to a working-class town in 21st-century northern England, where Othello is a bouncer at a local pub.

Jimmy Akingbola stars as Othello, in a cast that also features Claire-Louise Cordwell, Leila Crerar and Eddie Kay. Graham and Hoggett also direct and, with the company, choreograph. The production is designed by Laura Hopkins, with lighting by Natasha Chivers and sound by Gareth Fry.

Othello opens on 20 September 2008 on the main stage at the Theatre Royal Plymouth, where previous Frantic Assembly productions Stockholm, Peepshow and Mark Ravenhill’s pool (no water) have previously had sell-out runs in the Drum studio. It then continues to Salford, Northampton and Southampton before culminating with a run, from 5 to 22 November 2008, at London’s Lyric Hammersmith.


Filter’s version of Twelfth Night was originally commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and premiered in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2006 as part of the RSC’s year-long Complete Works festival. Following dates this month at the Neuss Shakespeare Festival in Germany, it runs at London’s Tricycle Theatre from 1 to 26 September 2008.

After more international dates, it then returns to the UK, visiting Southampton, Newbury, Ipswich and Bristol before going “home” to Stratford-upon-Avon for a final performance on 7 November.

Founded in 2001 by actors Oliver Dimsdale and Ferdy Roberts and musician Tim Phillips, Filter works with a trademark fusion of performance with integrated live music and sound. With Twelfth Night, no two shows are ever the same as decisions on performance directions are taken on the hoof as the narrative unfolds. The stage is covered in cables, technical equipment and instruments that the company uses to create sound, and all costume changes are made in view.

The cast comprises Dimsdale and Roberts, along with Jonathan Broadbent, Tom Haines, Ross Hugh, Poppy Miller and Gemma Saunders. The production is directed by Sean Holmes and produced by Schtanhaus (run by Emma Stenning and National Theatre associate director Tom Morris). Sound design and music are by Tom Haines and Ross Hugh.

- by Terri Paddock