© 2019 by Matt Edgerton

Othello

Image Seiya Taguchi

Dates: 2013 Sydney

Company: Sport For Jove

Role: Director

 

Winner of the 2013 Sydney Theatre Critic Award for Best Supporting Actor to Damien Ryan.

About (extract from Company notes)

Director Matt Edgerton, and designer Marissa Dale-Johnson, bring a flood of water into the Reginald Theatre for Shakespeare’s tale of sensual obsession and jealousy. This innovative new production combines SFJ’s trademark textual clarity and storytelling with a powerfully abstract setting – an ancient pool of water on a remote military base in an occupied country where a trusted soldier will work away at the certainty of his commander like an irresistible tide.

Othello, easily Shakespeare’s most relentless and tightly compressed thriller, is saturated with references to water. Oceanic mystery is the poet’s chief imaginative device and source of metaphor in this study of marriage, love, sex, persuasion and the illusion of loyalty.

No Shakespeare play offers a more modern sensibility or X-ray of contemporary political tensions. A former Muslim, enlisted as a child soldier at the age of 7, now leads a Christian naval force in what appears to be a fully assimilated and enlightened racial environment – until his sexuality crosses a boundary that stirs latent hatreds and xenophobic fears of the ‘other’. Venice, a city resting precariously on its own watery grave, and Cyprus, a frontier surrounded by enemies and a hostile ocean, are the battlefields on which Iago will carry out an act of terrorism on his fellow men and women.

Directed by Matt Edgerton and with an outstanding ensemble featuring Ivan Donato, Julia Ohannessian, Amy Mathews, Anthony Gooley, Damien Ryan, Scott Sheridan, Nick Papademetriou and Isaro Kayitesi, the production continues SFJ’s dedication to ‘colour-blind’ casting with an inspiring multicultural group of storytellers.

Responses

Explosively powerful this is a striking, unusual production prominently featuring water. Wonderful Sport by Jove under the inspired direction of Matt Edgerton bring us a gripping performance with a magnificent cast and show their usual excellent style of fluid scene transitions, a respect for the text, very energetic performances and a driving pace. Multi–layers of metaphor, meaning and sensation. A thrilling production. Go see.

Lynne Lancaster, Sydney Arts Guide

Othello is riveting. In the Seymour Centre’s small Reginald Theatre, Sport For Jove yet again finds a way of presenting Shakespeare without tricks, with no heavy-handed “concept”, but with force, clarity and a satisfying sense of purpose.

Deborah Jones, deborahjones.me

Another inventive, clear, vital production by Sport For Jove.​

Jo Litson, Sunday Telegraph

The most intriguing addition this mise en scene introduces is a large pool that occupies most of the stage, slowly filling with water throughout. Wonderfully enough, this serves as anything but a distraction, superbly heightening the violence of critical moments of the play and managing as a pleasing metaphor for emotional build during the rest of the action. ​

Swift and well executed mechanical exchanges complement Othello’s sure and thoughtful direction; the energy and intention of the play never flag, and fine details like the action of the handkerchief indicate just how carefully orchestrated this piece is.

Jonas Green, Stagemilk