The American Shakespeare Center staged their first traveling performance of the season in Olin Theater on Friday, September 13th. The company performed a ten-cast-member showing of Othello at 7:30 PM.
Directed by Jim Warren, the Center successfully attempted to bring the feel of a “real” Shakespearean play to Roanoke. Staying true to universal lighting, double casting, language, and music, the ASC gave an unforgettable performance. The play featured Fernando Lamberty as Othello, the moor, and Stephanie Holladay Earl as Othello’s unfortunate wife, Desdemona. Lamberty and Earl portrayed their characters with humor and seriousness alongside stage chemistry.
Shakespeare’s tragedy, Othello, puts together a loving and trusting lead male and a most conniving and manipulative villain, Iago, played by Rick Blunt.Â The tragedy circulates around a conspiracy, started up by Iago, inferring Desdemona is lying with another man. Thus, a dance of revenge and deceit ensues. The language of love inside the play evolves into one of delirium and jealously as the characters spiral to a tragic end.
The ASC brings the play to life as Shakespeare intended. Actors exaggerated facial expressions, delivered lines beautifully as if they spoke every day in the Shakespeare style, and brought the hidden humor and tragic love to life.Â However, Partrick Midgley’s portrayal of Roderigo, a male in love with Desdemona and a follower of Iago, might be the selling point of the performance. Midgley interacted with the audience by walking through the aisles, and he brought comedic relief to the character extremely well.
Along with an enjoyable performance, they provided extra seating onstage and interacted with those audience members as if they were present in the scene. Audience members included both the Roanoke College and Salem city communities. Entertaining songs and jokes were performed before the play and during intermission.
From director notes, Warren stated, “I chose whichever variant [of Othello] that would provide a juicier imageâ€¦Othello is a powerful and sexy piece of literature.”
The audience seemed to agree with Warren’s assessment, as the performance from the American Shakespeare Center was a “powerful and sexy” rendition.