Matthew Wade and Tabitha Becker Khan (c) Shaheen Razzaq/Veni Vidi Theatre Company
Natalie-Anne Down's adaptation of Othello for Veni Vidi Theatre Company's annual outdoor run at Lauderdale House proves to be a prescient choice in a summer where one man attacked his lover before committing suicide and an arch-manipulator has been all over the press. The play's evening setting also chimes with Othello's arc: at the beginning, the title character declares his love to Desdemona under a bright blue sky but as the sun sets, doubts creep in and his mood darkens.
With the first night's performance called off due to rain, the cast redouble their efforts for the remaining three nights and their class shines through. Rob Maloney (Iago) and Matthew Wade (Othello) are excellent throughout. Wade throws himself into his role, his physical acting enhancing the passion, and later the pain, burning within his character's soul. Maloney is almost a head shorter than Wade but he steals every scene they are in and shows just why Iago inspired a legion of modern-era villains who we love to hate.
Although Wade and Maloney have over half the script to themselves, the show's leading ladies do well in their limited parts. Laura Bacon's Emilia is an insightful and unwilling conspirator to Iago while Katie Don-Hughes plays Bianca with a real feistiness.
Credit must go to Tom Jordan's fight choreography. The scene where Rodrigo receives a swift kick to the codpiece drew gasps and winces from the audience. On the minus side, the sound could have been better. The actors did not have microphones and, as the play is performed in the round, this meant that they were always facing away from some parts of the audience, making it hard to hear them. Not helping matters, Lauderdale House is on a flight path and there is a road not far from the gardens.
That said, we enjoyed seeing Othello in an apposite environment, presented by a talented cast and look forward to coming back to Lauderdale House next year.