There are just three actors, and it kicks off with Brown Girl In The Ring. For a moment, you wonder what on earth you’ve let yourself in for.
But any doubts are quickly dispelled by a Bahamian production which grabs you by the lapels and holds you tight for 65 minutes, straight through, no interval - a thrilling ride in which all the power, the passion and the tragedy of Othello are distilled to their very essence.
The shedding of sub-plot is seamlessly realised as we get straight to the essentials - a playfully, evilly manipulative man corrupts the mind of a heroic warrior, a noble man with that utterly-fatal flaw, his jealousy.
In between them, and the means of Iago’s revenge, is the innocent Desdemona.
Moses Hardwick is terrific as Iago; at first he appears reluctant, obliging Othello to beg him to feed him poison; and then when challenged, he plays hurt. “Look where my loyalty has got me?” he sulks. And then when he’s got Othello hooked, he embroiders the most outrageous lies, confident Othello is past all logic of proof.
Craig Pinder - a white Othello in a black land - is similarly impressive, taking the bait, capitulating disastrously and then justifying himself in that most specious of farewells.
“One that Loved Not Wisely But Too Well”. What rot. But Pinder’s skill gives the full power of his fall.
Belinda Owusu offers a plausible mix of spirited and submissive as the doomed Desdemona.
This is a striking, bold and innovative retelling which goes right to the heart of Shakespeare’s classic. Between them, the three actors grip you vice-like in their fatal entanglement.
Also coming up at the Nuffield
23 – 24 September. Those Magnificent Men. Thrill to the sheer adventuring spirit of our unlikely heroes, marvel at their daredevil aerial antics and wonder at how the whole bally thing is told with just two actors and a crate full of funny props!
25 September. Tom Stade
26 September. Sid Lester’s Big Night In
27 September – 1 October. Bang Bang Bang. A gripping new play by the writer of O Go My Man and Duck, directed by Out of Joint’s legendary director Max Stafford-Clark.