Othello at the National – quite good

Last night I went to se Othello at the National Theatre, with Adrian Lester. I had seen an abridged production with Lenny Henry in the west end a few years ago, and was lastingly touched by the tragedy of jealous murder and betrayal. Lenny Henry was quite a revelation, his 6 feet five frame so physically imposing that is was actually quite frightening to watch in a small theatre.

My memory was that Othello is the central, most physically dominating and psychologically weakest character, and acts as a conduit for the malevolence of Iago. His naivety makes the oucome more, rather than less tragic. Adrian Lester’s polish and depth perhaps made it more difficult to believe that he would be so easily taken in by the influence of one other soldier. Nicolas Hytner’s staging also put such emphasis on his power and knowledge as a military leader that one would think he would take in more points of view than one of his subordinates, whom he should know would bear a grudge at being overlooked for promotion.

Still, I suppose the whole idea is that jealousy makes people mad, and it certainly still seems to reliably do that right up to the present day, with a different story in the papers every week of some guy killing his wife and/or children because she ran off with someone else. It sounds sort of sexist saying it, but women don’t seem as prone to explosive anger in that way. They just crumble into themselves if their husband leaves them, and maybe get a bit self-destructive for a while, but they mostly don’t murder their whole family.

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