Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 7, 2013


Playhouse On Park, West Hartford, CT
through October 20, 2013
By K.J. Rogowski

The universality of Shakespeare’s “Othello,” is demonstrated in Playhouse On Park’s production of this saga of jealousy, deception, and passion.

Director Sasha Bratt moves the action into a sparse and desolate contemporary setting described as: “An all too familiar world of constant war,” with a cast dressed in army camouflage, carrying automatic weapons. The set design reinforces the focus of this production on character and motivation, through its simplicity, using fabric and draperies to create the changing settings. The multiple scene changes are smooth and well choreographed.

Our re-introduction to the many familiar characters is carried off with particular skill by Tom Coiner (the ever scheming Iago), and one of his many unwitting companions/victims, Austin Seay (the ever-trusting Roderigo). The interplay between these two actors is a refreshing take on the characters, delivered with a believable contemporary cadence and attitude. Coiner switches affect and presentation, with the cunning glibness of a sociopath, and Seay follows his lead like a witting, yet pitiable, dupe. Likewise, Aiden Eastwood-Paticchio as Cassio presents a youthful naive quality that leaves him sadly open to the treachery that surrounds him. The other two key players in this tragedy, Othello and Desdemona, portrayed by RJ Foster and Celine Held, deliver their roles with a more ‘traditional’ characterization, which certainly carries the theme and action of the play, yet leaves desire for more vulnerability and humanity.

For those who enjoy Shakespeare, and the many diverse times and settings in which it can be played, and reinforce its relevance and insight into who we are, what we do, and why we do it, this may be a version to add to your experience.