Othello

Jan Leeming

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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.

OTHELLO

Date: 2nd October 2013

Othello 

Went with friends to see ‘Othello’ at the Gulbenkian Cinema in Canterbury transmitted live from the National Theatre. What an absolute treat.

Quite frankly, I think I’d almost rather go to a presentation like this – better raked seating and a totally clear view of the action with close-ups on the main characters so you never miss a trick.

I last saw Othello when I was a schoolgirl attending St. Joseph’s Convent School, Abbey Wood. Our English teacher, the wonderfully inspiring Mother Mary David, used to take us to Shakespeare productions at the Old Vic which back in the 50’s was used exclusively for Shakespeare. I remember the production well because it’s stars were Richard Burton and John Neville who alternated the roles. On our visit John Neville was playing Iago and I paid scant attention to Burton because it was Neville with whom I was infatuated. At the end of the performance, Mother Mary David allowed us to queue at the stage door for a short while. I caught a glimpse of the back of Mr. Neville’s dressing gown, navy blue silk with white spots, but he didn’t come out so I was unable to get his autograph. I then wrote to him and received a lovely photo by return of post. It was the second entry into my Autograph book, the first being that of Laurel and Hardy who I’d seen in Pantomime at Nottingham.

But back to last week’s Othello. Rory Kinnear was absolutely brilliant and spoke Shakespeare with such clarity and meaning that you forgot you were listening to Elizabethan English. I’ve never understood the play as well as I did the other night.
The remainder of the cast were also extremely good and very comprehensible.

I’d gone with a certain amount of misgiving because I’m afraid I’m old fashioned and like my Shakespeare in period costume. This was in modern dress with the troops in army fatigues. It all worked very well until the final Bedroom scene which I felt didn’t really work in a shabby little Barracks room with flat pack furniture. Some of the majesty of that scene was lost.

However I think these productions are wonderful in that they give us all a chance to see superb productions at a very reasonable price. I understand that the play was being simultaneously broadcast round the world and would be reaching over a million viewers.

My friends booked as soon as tickets were available and even so we were not in the best seats – third row from the front and on the side – so unfortunately my neck told me it had been held in an unnatural position for 3 hours. However that slight inconvenience was well compensated for by the massive enjoyment of seeing the Bard so well presented.

My much treasured photo and autograph of John Neville.  Sadly I never got to meet him.

OTHELLO

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