The production of the tragedy, the first Shakespeare that Grandage has directed at the Donmar, caps off his first five years as artistic director of the small (at 250 seats) but highly influential Covent Garden theatre. During his tenure to date, Grandage has personally directed ten award-winning productions, including Caligula, Henry IV, Grand Hotel, The Wild Duck and the premiere of Frost/Nixon, which transferred to the West End and Broadway.
He’s previously directed Ejiofor in The Vortex and Reilly in After Miss Julie at the Donmar and directed McGregor when he made his Whatsonstage.com Award-winning musical stage debut in the Donmar’s West End revival of Guys and Dolls at the Piccadilly Theatre.
In addition to the three leads, the Othello company features Tom Hiddleston as Cassio, Michelle Fairley as Emilia and Edward Bennett as Roderigo, and also includes Michael Hadley, Michael Jenn, Martina Laird, David Mara, Alastair Sims and James Laurenson. The production is designed by Christopher Oram, with lighting by Paule Constable and music and sound by Adam Cork.
With a solid four stars from most of the first night critics, only the Daily Telegraph’s Charles Spencer left last night’s opening wholly dissatisfied, labelling the production “a glum evening”. All eyes were trained particularly beadily on the show’s biggest star attraction, Ewan McGregor, who many critics found somewhat wanting and “insufficiently complex”, his natural charm working against him in the role of villain Iago. There was admiration for Kelly Reilly’s “captivating” Desdemona and other supporting parts, though the highest praise was reserved for Chiwetel Ejiofor and his “beautifully spoken” and “revelatory” title role performance.
- by Tom Atkins & Terri Paddock