Review: Othello, National Theatre (Olivier)

I feel pretty certain I’ve just seen the winner(s) of the next Olivier for Best Actor. I am not sure whether it will be Adrian Lester’s Othello or Rory Kinnear’s Iago. Olivia Vinall’s Desdemona might even pick up an award – a very assured performance for a relative newcomer. In all, this was about as good as theatre can get, dominated by two extraordinary performances. Nicholas Hytner’s direction must have been excellent to produce the performances but my one tiny  quibble was with the setting. The earlier part placed it at any time in the last 50 or 60 years but the unnecessary introduction of a small laptop narrowed this to within the last five (possibly ten) years. There have been at least three conflicts in Cyprus in my lifetime: more vagueness over timing could have left it with echoes of any or all of these, making it less modern but more relevant to modern times. But it is an extremely small quibble over an otherwise perfect production.

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