The Royal Shakespeare Company have taken their plays on tour to London, and the travelling troupe have landed at the Hackney Empire. In a city filled with beautifully restored theatres, the Empire is still striking with its lofty gilded and ornate interior. However, in my view its traditional raised stage and far-away circle was not as effective as the RSC's own theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. And it is really far away from any useful form of public transport to West or South London.
I've never seen Othello before, so before I start, let me just warn any other first-timers that they take a long time to die - 3.5 hours of intense Shakespearean text on a school night is a hard ask. I think it's a play that rewards deep and prolonged study, and a quick scan of Wikipedia on the tube doesn't begin to scratch the surface.
In this production, I thought the stand out performance was Antony Sher's as Iago, Othello's twisted and menacing Ancient. He did fluff his line a couple of times, but he was exciting to watch (Funnily enough I recognised him from The Factory's production of Hamlet, and had thought at the time that he was a talented out-of-work actor looking for a break while pulling pints.) On the other hand, I really disliked Othello. His spitting, drawling and rolling delivery was not just light and shade, but created unnecessary melodrama which distracted me from an already dramatic text.