JWR Articles: Live Event - Othello 2019 (Director: Nigel Shawn Williams) - May 28, 2019 id="543337086">

Othello 2019

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The insidious power of lies

How entirely appropriate in this present-day era of fake news and revenge politics, that the 2019 Stratford Festival opened with a colour-correct production of Othello.

In director Nigel Shawn Williams’ very capable hands, Shakespeare’s tale of emboldened deceit was given a decidedly two-hander approach, pitting the hapless Moor (Michael Blake in first-class form as he is moulded like clay to the point of murder) being driven to deadly despair by his extra-loyal underling/advisor, Iago (Gordon Miller is marvellously despicable bidding others to do his nefarious will by spouting half-truths at best and easily lying through his nefarious teeth).

Other impressive performances emanate from Laura Condlin’s wide-ranging Emilia, Jonathan Sousa’s readily perplexed Cassio and Shruti Kothari’s tart-with-a-heart rendering of Bianca.

Designer Denyse Karn’s Spartan set is brought to engaging life by the visual magic stemming from her own inventive projections. Verne Good’s original music and sound design fit the ongoing action like the proverbial glove, adding much to the production’s steady flow.

As Othello’s bed fills with bodies and apparent justice is ready to be meted out, thoughtful viewers are simultaneously reminded as to (a) what can happen when blatant untruths are spread to all who would hear, and (b) the faint hope that those who willingly perpetuate them will—someday—be held to account.

Given the current state of non-affairs in the White House and Queen’s Park, one can only hope that two more Iago’s will soon get their just desserts before the curtain falls on the rest of us.

And after last year’s cowardly bomb threat (a hoax) shutting down the 2018 opening night, it was calming but somewhat unsettling to see many of Stratford’s finest standing on guard for we. For the first time in my life, I felt more comfortable sitting during the national anthem, than standing and singing (badly) because we are supposed to. JWR

Between Performances

The Stratford Fesitval's 2019 season looks to be very promising.

In all my years staying the Arden Park Hotel (shifting to become a Best Western property a few years ago), I’ve never had the chance to try the Sunday brunch. With a slight change to my schedule, that was remedied on this trip for Stratford Festival’s opening week.

The setup is somewhat unusual. If seated in the main dining room or the lounge, guests must walk down the hall to the banquet room to fill their plates. Those who are part of groups--mostly weddings or corporate--sit together at longer tables, just a few feet from the culinary delights.

Beginning at 12;30 p.m., I found the salads somewhat tired and the unpeeled shrimp a bit of a nuisance. The made-to-order omelet was a touch overdone, but otherwise very tasty. The roast beef needed heaps of gravy to cover the dry, tough slices; the ribs and mashed potatoes were much better.

How wonderful (and exceedingly rare these days) to find the dessert bar loaded with cherries, floating on whipped cream and anchored by graham wafers!

Overall, lots of variety but nothing really exceptional. JWR

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Playwright - William Shakespeare
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