Othello: An All-Female Production

William Shakespeare

Smooth Faced Gentlemen

Underbelly Potterrow

From 06 August 2015 to 31 August 2015

Rating: ***

Review by Philip Fisher

The Smooth Faced Gentlemen abridge Shakespeare for all-female casts. Following an enjoyably gory Titus Andronicus, this year sees their take on Othello.

Casting of this type is not quite as novel as it sounds, since the Donmar has been perfecting the form in recent years, inevitably providing a benchmark.

A 75-minute Othello sounds unlikely whoever is starring and proves to be rather too much of a rush, losing much of the poetry and pathos.

Director Yaz Al-Shaater seems more interested in finding comedy, sometimes when it should probably not be located.

The actors do not go out to be masculine in the male parts, which can give the impression of a school production since the menfolk all seem very young.

The acting is of variable quality and at times it is hard to hear some of the performers. However, Anita-Joy Uwajeh gives a passionate performance in the title role, while Ashlea Kaye’s Iago seems miscast, not because of her acting abilities but lack of physical presence.

The pick of the performers, benefitting from a female part, is Helen Coles as Desdemona.