When I heard Frantic Assembly’s ‘Othello’ was being performed I was very excited: Shakespeare and Frantic are, for me, a match made in theatre heaven. This award-winning production was originally performed in 2008, but has recently been brought back with a new cast. And I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed.
The lighting and music were used in the same way as in most Frantic Assembly productions. (I know from personal experience, at a workshop by Frantic, that they consider both sound and lights as two extremely important theatrical elements when creating physical theatre.) But what takes centre stage is the movement. From the very start there was an incredible energy from all the actors, and naturally the movements were fascinating to watch. For me, the best scene for physical theatre was the opening scene: it was full of extraordinary moments and constant movements, combined brilliantly with the acting. However, I did feel that as the show continued the physical theatre element began to fade through the second half, which was slightly disappointing.
The acting itself was surprisingly good, particularly when not part of the main action – it felt so realistic, as if they really were just having a conversation with friends at a pub. On the other hand, I did feel that the Shakespearean dialogue sometimes got lost through their diction and their use of accents, which made it slightly harder to follow.
I would like to point out that this version of Othello is not the full Shakespearean play. Instead, it was stripped back to the bare minimum (omitting the long soliloquies of Othello and Iago). I didn’t mind this though! I feel that this way it’s more engaging and appeals more to the younger, modern audience – especially as the majority of the audience was made up of sixth form drama trips.
Overall, this production was a fantastic blend of modern and Elizabethan theatre, and it’s no wonder that Frantic Assembly brought it back!