Sam Morell as Othello, Julia Landry as Desdemona
Mark Barry as Cassio, Neilson brown as Montano
Chad Traupmann as Iago
Chad Traupmann as Iago, Sam Morell as Othello
Julia Landrey as Desdemona, Sally Williams as Emilia

This is OTHELLO, this is Shakespeare made for now and yet still respects this universal revenge narrative. Set in the competitive realm of the all-male pro basketball team that pressures the players and the business behind. So begins a microcosm that isolates our narrative in competitive sports where everyone has a stake in the success and failure. Space on the team drives our story arc in this testosterone driven world.

The Streamed Shakespeare production company is now a Sydney-based indie theatre company, incorporating live theatre and video. This production will be videoed, and a video-on-demand released early next year. This is their first live and in-person show.

Director Haki Pepo Olu Crisden has assembled a terrific cast of Streamed Shakespeare regulars and newcomers, including English teacher Sam Morell as the title character, Julia Landrey as Desdemona, Brendan Flood as her controlling father Brabantio, Chad Traupmann as Shakespeare’s greatest villain, Iago, and Sally Williams as his long-suffering wife, Emilia. Along with a respectable ensemble in support.

So often the play has at its heart the demon of Iago, whose capacity for evil sucks all into the vortex. Iago is a paradox, he acts in a strategic way, but he is a bottom dweller, a sucker, an informant, surviving at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Iago also understands this and deliberately avoids the tests of character that Cassio, Othello and Desdemona have to face because he has no honour.  Yet Othello, takes him into his confidence and the natural order of things unravels. 

Othello has a clear sense of entitlement that comes from being at the top of the social hierarchy, but he must use all his physical presence and power to maintain his position. He articulates positive values in the face of attacks by Brabantio, and is initially loving toward Desdemona. Othello is always vulnerable because of his skin colour, and I flinched every time he was referred to as ‘the moor’. Othello becomes preoccupied with his status and his character failures abetted by the poisonous counsel of Iago. 

At the heart of this production the greatest scenes are between Othello and Desdemona and these are powerful. Julia Landrey’s  Desdemona shows great strength when she rises to the challenge on her character and shows why she is a suitable match for Sam Morell’s Othello, but this is not enough to save her life. The peak crisis for me was Desdemona feeling her lovers’ push away and given she knows no reason she will deny all, she proclaims,

“Alas, what ignorant sin have I committed?”  he challenges her, “What, not a whore?” “No, as I shall be saved.”

Well done new Indie live theatre company. Inside a church in Leichhardt, you reset as black curtained theatre. Simple yet effective lighting by LED from floor and trees. The supplementary images (David Castle) were well received and wonderfully shot, although in this space configuration were sidelined (literally). I particularly loved the energy of the scene transition score (David Park) sourced from Epidemic Sound. Overall, a valuable re-telling of this old tale of love, passion, revenge and tragedy.

Streamed Shakespeare’s OTHELLO, reviewed by Elizabeth Surbey