The current production of Othello at Sheffield's Crucible Theatrevis, somewhat surprisingly, the first in the theatre's forty-year history. The big draw of this particular production is the casting of The Wire stars Dominic West and Clarke Peters as Iago and Othello respectively.
West, who hails from the Sheffield area, dominates the production with his Iago - playing him with a Sheffield accent, his interpretation is wonderfully funny, with an undercurrent of nastiness. It's a credit to West that his Iago was reminiscent neither of McNulty nor his recent performance as Fred West, proving what a versatile actor he is. However, he is ably accompanied by Alexandra Gilbreath whose Emilia is every bit Iago's match. Gilbreath's humour and pathos mean her Emilia is the character the audience take to their hearts. They're ably assisted by the supporting cast, with Gwilym Lee in particular playing an excellent Casio.
Clarke Peters is an incredibly charismatic Othello, although in places his enunciation was a little muffled and it was hard to hear all of his lines; something that affected others in the cast at times, particularly after a loud sound effect or peal of laughter from the audience.
The opening two scenes of the production also felt rather flat with little variation in the movement or staging - but after this the pace picked up along with the plot. Once Iago's scheming begins, so does the action, with rapid scene changes and much more variation in movement and in the expression within the performances. The running time is long, and the interval was less than the fifteen minutes advertised, but it's to the credit of the performers and production team that the audience didn't seem too put out by this.
As with other Crucible productions, the look of Othello does not disappoint. Designer Morgan Large's set and costumes are beautiful, and Lucy Carter is to be commended for the wonderful lighting design, which really helps set the different scenes and aids the emotion of the play throughout.
Othello is at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield until Saturday 15 October 2011.