The Pantaloons Master one of Shakespeare’s Greatest Tragedies

The members of the Pantaloons Theatre Company pride themselves on accessible interpretations of classic theatre, from Homer to Shakespeare to Dickens, unlocking the playfulness and good humour from the most sober of texts. Othello must represent one of  their greatest challenges yet – it is, after all, one of Shakespeare’s darkest plays – but perhaps it’s no surprise that such gifted performances can master tragedy as well comedy.

We still got to enjoy their signature tomfoolery, though for the most part this was restricted to tuneful interludes and poking fun at their small cast. Alex River, doing a fine Kathy Burke impression, led the way with lots of fourth wall busting interaction with a lively and co-operative audience.  When Roderigo and Cassio fought,and Lodovico then intervened, Chris Smart had great fun tackling all three parts at once.

But Ed Ferrow sensibility played villainous Iago straight, becoming very much the focus of this production, while Kelly Griffins, far from being restricted by her wheelchair, used it to present a vulnerable and exposed Desidimona. By the closing scene, attempts at comedy had largely fallen away, with Wesley Charles’s Othello finally taking centre stage in a coherent and engaging conclusion to this most complex of plays. It left me wondering if they should think about doing Shakespeare straight once in a while.

David Vass