Actor Nick Rose delivers an outstanding Iago in “Othello,” playing now through March 24 at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. Rose, as Iago, commands the stage from beginning to end, engineering the downfall of Othello, pulling the audience into his venomous deceit, his machinations greased with obsequiousness and false loyalty to the trusting Moor. Rose delivers his role with such laser-focused intent that as an audience you are split—you hate, hate this Iago, but you love, love Nick Rose for vividly bringing this character to life.
Quick recap: Othello is the story of a Moor, who has quickly risen through the ranks of the Venetian army, and has recently married Desdemona, the daughter of a Venetian nobleman (who disowns her for wedding the foreigner). Iago, who feels he was overlooked by Othello for a promotion, dupes pal Roderigo, who was courting Desdemona, into a plan to break up the match. They focus on the promoted Cassio, ruining his reputation and conjuring up Othello’s jealousy. Desdemona relies on the wise counsel of Emilia, Iago’s wife, who SPOILER ALERT finally unmasks Iago’s true character.
In addition to Rose’s must-see performance, there are many other reasons to get your tickets to “Othello,” directed with fluidity and power by Christopher V. Edwards. The play is accessible as it adopts the theme of modern day warfare, with the battle news on screens, cell phones, and Budweiser. The set is filled with corrugated walls, barricades, and sand– a great job by Justin Locke, scene designer, working together with sound and video designer Doug Borntrager. Sara Watson’s lighting design provides just the right spots of light to ferret out Iago’s treachery.
The cast is solid. William Oliver Watkins as Othello is subdued, but strong and believable as the Moor, who can sweetly adore his new wife as well as bark orders at his men. Miranda McGee creates a caring Emilia we all want as a friend; Courtney Lucien is a loving Desdemona; Justin McCombs enriches Cassio; Jim Hopkins is a great southern Duke.
This production of “Othello” brings to life a revered classic tragedy of misplaced trust, rappelling into the darkness of a person’s soul. Get your tickets at Cincyshakes.com or call 513-381-2273 (BARD).