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Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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There's little point claiming to do something new with a classic text if you don't do anything to make it so - especially with one so well-known as Othello. That's something recently formed Emanate Theatre need to grasp sharpish if they are to prosper.

It's an acceptable stab at Shakespeare's tragic tale of love burned up by jealousy and manipulation which charts the highs of Othello's passion for new wife Desdemona and its demise. Strapping, gorgeous Kingsley Amadi is good as the lead although doesn't quite avoid the trap of going from 0-100 miles per hour in rage mode - something even Lenny Henry struggled with in his well-received turn in the same role.

Young Bryony Reiss is a sweet enough Desdemona and her handmaid Amelia (Emma Kirrage) gives a fluttering, heartfelt portrayal. George Jauncey's Iago is rat-like and creepy, if a shade two-speed, while Charles McGuire doubling up as soldier Montano and Desdemona's father Brabantio is bold but a bit shouty. Matthew Hopkinson's attractive Cassio is the most mesmerising, with such natural presence it lifts any scenes he appears in.

The version falters because of limited directorial vision and control. Even with a fairly tight cast of 10, too many actors are left standing without anything to do in busy scenes - and in Othello's last, wrenching speech, unbelievably most of those on-stage (and still alive) don't even look at him. Very distracting.

An unnecessary bell sound effect cuts off awkwardly while the set design comprises little more than ripped sheets artfully hung - the great exception being the ominous hanging net over Desdemona's deathbed in the final scene. Better late than never. Next time round, young director Emily Morrison needs to get a proper grip. Starting with the basics - and a pared down script - should help.

- Vicky Ellis


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