KCST Review: Othello

Written by

OthelloOthello is not by any means an easy play to perform. The lines are long, the characters change dramatically over the course of the play, and the bloodiness is abundant. King’s Crown Shakespeare Troupe’s attempt at it was therefore definitely something to rave about, especially considering the tightness of the group’s budget.  The audience laughed, gasped, and watched transfixed as Othello transformed from brave soldier to raving mad husband in this past Thursday’s sold-out performance.

KCST’s Othello marked Kendale Winbush’s troupe debut, and he definitely delivered with his leading performance.  Winbush portrayed the confident Othello with style, and perfectly executed the character’s ultimate grief and horror.  Brian LaPerche was equally remarkable as Cassio, whose drunken scenes left the audience shaking with laughter.  LaPerche’s fight scene with Breanne Lucy, who played Montano, was truly one of the highlights of the play.

Madalena Provo and Alice Mottola, who played the respective roles of Emilia and Desdemona, both had their fine moments as well. Provo’s breakdown at the end of the play brought tears to spectators’ eyes, and while Alice Mottola tended to rush her lines—occasionally making her difficult to understand—her performance as the weak Desdemona was overall very strong.  A special mention also goes out to Adam May, whose haunting last words as Desdemona’s father stayed with the audience throughout the performance.

Ultimately, it was James Underwood’s Iago who stole the show. Underwood not only had the audience members laughing as he poked fun at and manipulated the character Rodrigo, but he also had them completely enraptured by his soliloquies.  Delivering his speeches with the utmost ease, as though he had been speaking Shakespearean English all his life, Underwood exemplified Iago’s haughtiness, and proved to the audience that the character is really a villain whom one really can’t help but love.

The ensemble of Victoria Ugarte and Jesse Cohen was entertaining, if slightly lacking in energy.  Unfortunately, the clown played by Kaitlin Kaufman was more scary than funny, constantly crawling around the stage like a frog. Zack Sheppard, however, was perfect as the bumbling Rodrigo, and always kept the audience laughing at his expressions.

Under Mikhaela Mahony’s direction, the production team made a bold attempt to modernize many aspects of the play; while this could occasionally be conceived as forced, the play definitely struck closer to home on account of the characters’ contemporary mannerisms and the modern-style costume design.  The props were few, but they were consistently well-used, particularly Iago’s mask and the bed that later became a table (and, of course, the strawberry handkerchief that famously serves as a token of infidelity). The lighting was also minimal and focused mainly on the character’s faces, but it certainly did the job.  The sound, on the other hand, was simply amazing; the chilling music and noises of nature perfectly augmented the drama occurring on stage.

Unless you’re a die-hard Shakespeare fan, KCST’s Othello will likely strike you as overly long; the production stuck very closely to the text, and at a full three hours, it might not be feasible for some. But if you love Othello and want to see a modern, funny version of it, go see this production; it’s a spectacular showcase for some of the most skilled actors and designers at Columbia.


Tags: , ,


  1. huger QUEENS  

    othello across the universe?

  2. Anonymous  

    Excellent acting and fabulous use of color... best show I've seen on campus this semester.

  3. Anonymous  

    Most of the acting was very good--Kendale was fabulous, and James really stole the show with his Iago. The set was great--minimalist and perfect for the black box location--and so was the music and sound. However, I really didn't like this interpretation of Desdemona. You can take that character in so many different directions, and Shakespeare's words provide ways to make her strong and interesting, but here, she just seemed to be a limp little girl who you could only sometimes understand. Emilia, who really is only a secondary character, was much more intriguing and commanded the attention in the scenes that the two had together.

  4. anonymous  

    Hey since this isn't on the Bwog event calendar, mind telling us when the rest of the show times are this weekend?

  5. Team Othello  

    There are three more performances:

    Friday 8:00pm
    Saturday 2:00pm and 8:00pm

    Both shows are sold out, but show up to the Lerner Black Box and you can get in off the waiting list. To be added to the waiting list, email [email protected]

  6. I agree  

    yeah... I thought Desdemona was really whiny, and breathy, and without energy. And its not like that character can't have energy--she can, and she should. she can drive the play. emilia was really good, and owned the scenes she was in--even when she didn't talk. it made me wish she was in there more.

  7. I agree  

    Plus, wasn't clown supposed to be creepy? I mean, isn't the whole play pretty creepy? But yeah, Iago was great, but also, of course he stole the show--he's in all of it. Great Othello performance. Cassio was truly great.

  8. Eh  

    The clown was definitely supposed to be creepy and not funny, and I don't think Desdemona was bad and I DEFINITELY don't think she rushed her lines (the whole thing seemed kind... of... slowly... paced...).
    And at least Desdemona remembered all her lines, which is more than I can say for Othello...

    • Anonymous  

      Desdemona took a very strong female character and turned her into a whimpering little girl. She definitely did rush her lines--I could only understand half of what she said. And why was she using an accent? Everyone else was American.

      • Anonymous  

        I don't know how she was the first night, but she wasn't that weak tonight. She was apparently choosing to play up the weaker aspects of her role, but certainly not to fault. She was a little breathy, and did seem to have a bit of a british accent. But Emilia was also a bit breathy in the first act (though she didn't say much). All in all, BRAVO to the cast and crew. Othello and Iago and Cassio and Barbantio were really strong. Desdemona's death was so sad. Emilia was breathtaking in the final scene, i nearly cried. she was almost beautifully painful.

    • Anonymous  

      Knowing lines isn't the same as acting. Nobody noticed that Othello didn't know his lines. He was great.

  9. Ralph  

    I thought Desdemona was delicate, restrained, and beautiful, the perfect foil for the more overt, intense characters of Othello and Iago. It's a difficult part to play and she should be commended for delivering a performance that was worthy for its contrast.

  10. Anonymous  

    I just got back from tonight's performance, and I have to overwhelmingly agree with Ralph. Desdemona was a breath of fresh air; in a play dominated by explosive acting, she maintained a quiet strength. I read the above comments before I went, and they led me completely astray. She, along with the other leads, held her own.

  11. Anonymous  

    Desdemona had the most beautiful singing voice i have ever heard. She was so beautifully clear, and her speaking voice was also gorgeous.

  12. Anonymous  

    Clown was so cool! Great music. face was cool. I really liked the color scheme too

  13. Anonymous  

    I loved Desdemona. I don't really know what anyone's talking about. Kudos to everyone else, too.

  14. Anonymous  

    Yeah, forget that--Desdemona WAS great, but Emilia stole the show.

  15. Ok first of all  

    Did the same person just comment 5 times? I'm calling your bullshit, because why would 5 different people comment using the same name within 4 minutes of each other?

    Secondly, it's kinda annoying how all the theater kids have to critique each other and get all defensive and weird and post 5 times. No one cares but you guys about this shit, be nice to each other at least, because no one else is.

    • hmmm

      I'm confused. You insist that only those "theatre kids" care about these reviews, yet you yourself clicked on the comment link and read it closely enough to note that several people commented within a few minutes of each other (which makes perfect sense considering what time the show ended).

    • Anonymous  

      Also, Anonymous is the default. If you don't type in a name, it appears as Anonymous.

    • No one else?  

      Really? "No one else is" nice to theatre kids?
      I think we should all be nice to theatre kids. After all, you know who else wasn't nice to theatre kids? Hitler.

    • Anonymous  

      If no one was nice to theatre kids, they wouldn't be as popular on campus as they are. Take a look at some of the most well-known people on campus in the past few years and see if theatre didn't get a whole lot of them that recognition.

  16. Michael

    Desdemona was great, but seriously--she was hot! I don't know what the problem was. I loved her. Hot!!!

  17. Anonymous  

    I found it overly dark, lighting-wise. Great show though- costuming was particularly strong.

  18. Anonymous  

    I liked the show, but it wasn't my favorite KCST production--I preferred The Winter's Tale and Caesar (although thanks for actually going to the whole show for this one, Bwog). I thought that Othello was great, as were Iago and Emilia. The costuming was great all around except for Desdemona's weird sheer dress/floral sundress combination and Bianca's Halloween costume thing.

  19. Anonymous  

    AMAZING SHOW. Iago was really amazing, love to hate him, hate to love him... Othello's performance was so great. As was Emilia's

  20. Alum in Beijing

    I'm over here in Beijing, and was absolutely devastated I couldn't see the show. Congrats to the entire cast and crew though for what sounds like a beautiful production. Is there a video that will be Youtube-able in the future?

  21. Member of KCST  

    Are you shiney??

  22. Anonymous  

    This show was AMAZING. Congrats to all involved. It was long, but I was captivated every minute. Othello and Iago were spectacular, but what made this show great was that there were no weak links. Though they could have, Othello and Iago didn't have to carry the show, Cassio, Roderigo, Brabantio, the Clown and all the other characters were all fabulous and really contributed their own point of view to the show.

    Great direction, great execution! Easily one of the best shows this semester!

  23. KCST person  

    Not enough love for Mikhaela Mahony in these comments. As far as student directors go, she is truly outstanding.

  24. Anonymous  

    Mikhaela's love of Shakespeare and Othello is what brought this show to life! She's amazing. Kudos to producer Allie Lalonde for doing such a great job, too!

© 2006-2015 Blue and White Publishing Inc.