Theatre Night: Season 5, Episode 1

Othello (23 Jun. 1990)

TV Episode  -   -  Comedy | Drama | Romance
8.2
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 125 users  
Reviews: 4 user | 1 critic

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Title: Othello (23 Jun 1990)

Othello (23 Jun 1990) on IMDb 8.2/10

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Cast

Episode cast overview:
Michael Grandage ...
...
...
Brabantio / Gratiano
Willard White ...
Sean Baker ...
John Burgess ...
Brian Lawson ...
First senator / Second Cyprus soldier / Second Othello soldier
David Hounslow ...
Servant to the Senate / First Cyprus soldier / First Othello soldier
Philip Sully ...
...
...
Emilia
Marsha A. Hunt ...
Bianca (as Marsha Hunt)
Jonathan Goldstein ...
Musician
Peter Rolinson ...
Musician
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Comedy | Drama | Romance

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23 June 1990 (UK)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Television version of the Royal Shakespeare Company production from their 1989 Stratford and London season. See more »

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User Reviews

 
The best Othello for Shakespeare fans.
14 January 2005 | by (Northridge, Ca) – See all my reviews

While many people may like films such as Verdi's OTELLO, with Placido Domingo, or "O" with Mekhi Phifer, others of us like Shakespeare and want to see an OTHELLO with some devotion to the play. However, doing so is tough....and the other dramatizations prove it. I recall when the BBC version of it first aired in the United States, the director, Jonathan Miller, uncomfortably tried to defend having a white actor play the part of Othello. Afterwards, many of us watched the great Anthony Hopkins disappointingly perform Othello in very unconvincing blackface make-up.

Orson Welles directed a visually-brilliant black-and-white film version, but the play was cut severely and, frankly, a white actor in black face, doesn't really work anymore. The same goes for the Laurence Olivier film version, which was stagily directed, with disappointing set design and color.

At least Olivier played Othello with gusto, unlike so many other actors, such as Hopkins, who underplay Shakepeare's most passionate tragic hero. Laurence Fishburne, normally a great actor, underacted the part to the point of being monotonal. Even if one can accept a white actor in the part, however, the Olivier version, like the Welles one, suffered from an Iago less charismatic than Othello (perhaps because Olivier and Welles, both prima-donnas, in portraying the character, didn't want to be upstaged?). Too bad, because the play needs a great ensemble cast.

There have been other dramatizations; however, this version tops them all, especially for Shakespeare lovers. At three-hours running length, the play is hardly cut, if at all, and one can't ask for a more uniformly talented ensemble. While Ian McKellan is as likable oily as Iago as he was for RICHARD III, Willard White gets the kudos for being one impressive Othello--the best on DVD (If you see White in the Glynbourne video of Mozart's "Abduction in a Seraglio," you'll see how he is always a very effective scene-stealer). Imogen Stubbs actually makes sense of Desdemona, a female character many of today's audiences have trouble understanding or even liking, and Zoe Wanamaker is the most appealing Emilia of them all. Like most Trevor Nunn productions, the acting is uniformly right in terms of chemistry, pacing, etc.

Some might be bothered with its setting. Personally, I'm all for setting Shakespeare plays in different time periods, especially when they serve the drama's themes/characters, as TITUS and McKellan's RICHARD III did. In this case, Shakespeare's most Mediterrian tragedy is set, somewhat abstractedly, in the U.S. Civil War era. To me, it works--as does most everything else in this, the best production of OTHELLO, at least for Shakespeare fans.


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