Othello | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Othello 

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OTHELLO, Footsteps Theatre Company. Early in Shakespeare's tragedy the soldier with the "perfect soul" stakes his life upon the faithfulness of his wife. But in the final scene, Othello murders Desdemona in cold blood, convinced she's an intractable adulterer. He undergoes this monumental change in a day and a half--which should tip off directors to the kind of pace required to make his transformation credible. How can Othello believe Iago's assertion that Desdemona has repeatedly enjoyed "stol'n hours of lust" with a lieutenant unless events transpire so quickly Othello hasn't a moment to think?

Curiously, director Jean Adamak has mounted a leisurely, digressive Othello for Footsteps, giving the title character all the time in the world to mull and ponder, rendering him a blunt idiot rather than a tragic figure. And though the play's sole engine is Iago's all-consuming desire to ruin Othello, Iago here is a droopy, dyspeptic noodge who seems more eager to nap than exact revenge.

A press release boasts that casting only women in the show "removes all preconceived notions about Shakespeare's play." If coherence, credibility, and liveliness are preconceived notions, the press release is sadly accurate. With the notable exceptions of Michelle Hensley as Desdemona and Melissa Van Kersen as Iago's wife, no one in the cast seems to be after much of anything, resulting in a three-hour production that dawdles when it should surge inexorably forward. --Justin Hayford

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