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Eugene Weekly : Coverstory : 7.10.08

 

Oregon Shakespeare Festival:

Traditional Innovator A Q&A with OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch

Organized Insanity OSF’s costume shop

Last Man Standing Othello on the Elizabethan Stage through Oct. 10

It’s All Just a Case of Mistaken Identity A Comedy of Errors on the Elizabethan Stage through Oct. 12

Postmodern Angst, Zany Style The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler at the Bowmer Theatre through Nov. 1

Man Alone, and Whiny Coriolanus at the New Theatre through Nov. 2

Bare Bones Our Town on the Elizabethan Stage through Oct. 11

People in Motion John Sipes moves, but not to the music

 

Last Man Standing

Othello on the Elizabethan Stage through Oct. 10

Othello (Peter Macon) resists Desdemona (Sarah Rutan). Photo: T. Charles Erickson

A tragedy of Shakespearean proportions (in other words: melodramatic to the hilt), the themes of racism, loyalty, jealousy, madness and murder come through thick and heavy mostly due to stunning performances all around and an Iago (Dan Donohue) who can use doublespeak with frightening ease.

OSF’s production gets off to a stodgy start, mostly due to long early scenes where the blocking is glacially slow and an Othello (Peter Macon) who has to warm up to his lines as the play progresses. But once Iago fills Othello’s ear with implications of Desdemona’s (Sarah Rutan) infidelity, the game is on.

If we were to believe Othello when he says, “Men should be what they seem,” we’d have to believe that men are monsters, as both Othello and Iago seem to play more to their rotten cores than their noble shells. Iago wants what Othello has (a generalship, a beautiful wife), but can’t have it. Plus, he simply hates “the Moor.” So he pulls Othello down in a carefully orchestrated game. Indeed, the stark scenic design by Rachel Hauck evokes a game board, with white squares and a black strip down the center. Desdemona, Emilia, Cassio, Roderigo, Bianca: All are pawns for Iago’s cruel wit.

While Macon delivers a tour de force Othello (leaving him drained by curtain call), Donohue’s Iago is more fun to watch. Notice the way he stokes Othello’s jealousy by playing the devil’s advocate. When Othello shrugs things off, Iago bores in; when Othello rages, Iago asks if he’s not being too rash. Before the stage goes dark at play’s end, Iago turns to look at the audience, as if we are now to decide on the victor. In a play where nearly everybody loses, notice that Iago is still standing. — Chuck Adams

 

 

Traditional Innovator A Q&A with OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch

Organized Insanity OSF’s costume shop

Last Man Standing Othello on the Elizabethan Stage through Oct. 10

It’s All Just a Case of Mistaken Identity A Comedy of Errors on the Elizabethan Stage through Oct. 12

Postmodern Angst, Zany Style The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler at the Bowmer Theatre through Nov. 1

Man Alone, and Whiny Coriolanus at the New Theatre through Nov. 2

Bare Bones Our Town on the Elizabethan Stage through Oct. 11

People in Motion John Sipes moves, but not to the music

More reviews can be found in our online archives