A play that exemplifies the idea of keeping enemies close but friends closer, “Othello: Moor of Venice” opens the Folger Theatre’s 2011-2012 season.
Owiso Odera, who makes his D.C. acting debut, plays Othello, a Turkish moor and esteemed general in the Venetian army. He has just married Desdemona, daughter of a Venetian senator, when he is sent to Cyprus to defend Venice against the Cyprian forces.
Truth and friendship are questioned when the villainous Iago is enraged due to Othello’s promotion of Michael Cassio to lieutenant. Folger Theatre favorite Ian Merrill Peakes plays Iago, and Janie Brookshire makes her Folger debut as Desdemona.
Othello is the victim of Iago’s deceit, as his loyalty and his wife’s chastity are questioned and thrown into chaos in this tale of deceit and jealousy.
Directed by the award winning Robert Richmond, who directed the Folger Theatre’s 2010-2011 season production of “Henry VIII,” his super-cast of award winning actors illustrate Shakespeare’s dark and cruel tale of love and deceit that is destroyed by unreasonable jealousy.
Richmond’s “Othello” adds an element of humor that is not evident in the play through the character of Iago. Peakes portrays him as a confidante and friend to Othello. But the audience knows better as they get to see Iago in his most cunning elements, which makes his character one that the audience cannot help but love to hate. Nothing that he does seems to make sense, but he amuses the audience as he sets out traps that lead two-thirds of the characters in the play to their demise.
During the play, Iago seems to be the only person on stage who understands what’s going on as it should be, seeing that he is orchestrating all the mischief and strife.
Always presenting his worries as friendly curiosity, Iago manipulates Othello into questioning Desdemona’s love for him, and the green-eyed monster of jealousy takes over Othello, causing him to cast reason into the air and make hasty decisions based on Iago’s lies that are presented as truth to him.
“Othello: Moor of Venice” will run until Dec. 4. Tickets for “Othello: Moor of Venice” cost between $40-60 dollars, with Friday and weekends being the most expensive times of the week to see the play.