Film stars Daniel Craig and David Oyelowo star in the New York Theatre Workshop's new production of "Othello." NY1's Roma Torre filed the following review.
The New York Theatre Workshop production of "Othello" is Shakespeare at its most exhilarating. Director Sam Gold delivers a contemporary in-your-face rendering of the 400-year-old tragedy that feels thrillingly fresh and entirely relevant. Oh, and did I mention it features Daniel Craig and David Oyelowo?
The two film stars prove themselves to be phenomenal stage actors. For three-plus hours, they lead a first-class company in this devastating tale of love, jealousy and betrayal. It all plays out on a reconfigured stage just four rows deep on three sides, giving the audience - surrounding them on upholstered benches - an intimate, eyewitness view of the whole nasty affair.
As war rages, the stage - strewn with mattresses, ingeniously lit - resembles a military barracks where we see soldiers playing Guitar Hero and another removing his prosthetic leg. There’s even a sing-along to a Drake song. But make no mistake, this is a high-energy death spiral featuring some of the best choreographed stage fighting I have ever seen.
And it's all instigated by Craig's masterful portrayal of Iago, depicted here as the Shakespearean equivalent of a one-man social media wrecking crew – as funny as he is lethal. As his target, the proud warrior Othello, Oyelowo tears up the stage with a blazing passion both hot and cold.
Rachel Brosnahan puts a welcome feminist spin on his doomed wife Desdemona. And Finn Wittrock's Cassio makes a fine flawed hero. All individually excellent, but together, they make a mighty synchronized ensemble.
Watching the fatal repercussions of Iago's lies and deceptions, it's hard not to think of our own political climate. As tragic? Let's hope not. But given this inspired production, for sure not nearly as entertaining.