Bitterness aside (yes, we too were not on the pulse fast enough to bag tickets before their price sky-rocketed), we are rather enjoying the bitch fight that is ‘should Ewan McGregor have been cast as Iago in the Donmar Warehouse’s production of Othello?’
Bloomberg, while slightly disappointed by McGregor’s under-emphasis of evil intent, are definitely the most complimentary of his performance:
Fortunately, Ewan McGregor gives a very creditable performance — codpiece and all ... The actor, whose films include ``Star Wars'' and ``Moulin Rouge,'' brings an understated clarity and compelling plausibility to the role of Iago.
The same cannot be said of McGregor’s other critics, who are making more mince-meat out of him than his alter ego does of Othello. Says the Evening Standard: “he neither convinces as brilliant deceiver nor as a depraved manipulator. He has none of the ingratiating deference or chilling inscrutability of Ian McKellen's definitive Iago or of Antony Sher's ostentatiously evil Ensign.” The Telegraph are equally scathing (alongside a plethora of other publications): "I'd be reluctant to part with a tenner for his [Ewan McGregor’s] performance… In a rare botched shot from director Michael Grandage, McGregor is by far the weakest link in a disappointing production."
So why are the critics not ad idem about Ewan McGregor as Iago? Perhaps because the character of Iago is arguably one of the most developed in all of Shakespeare’s plays. Built around deception, Iago is jealous and twisted at the core, but charming and persuasive on the surface. It’s no wonder McGregor might displease some - this is schizophrenic acting at its max. And all of this in a tongue-twisting Shakespearean dialect.
Come on all ye lucky Othello frequenters, what’s your view?! Is McGregor pleasingly evil or evil at pleasing? And in the process, if someone would kindly donate us their tickets, we too will chuck our opinion to the fore.
Photo courtesy of lunarsea71’s flickr photostream