Verdi’s operatic adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello is brought to us by Kent Opera. Their Pros and Cons project aims to make music and theatre accessible to those incarcerated in prison and it was a pleasure to watch this very special performance directed by Stephen Tiller.

Subtle sound effects and Maggie Thatcher’s dulcet tones bring the setting into modern times

On arrival, the audience is directed to seats on either side of the actors which gives the strange experience of watching each other watching the performance - however it isn’t long before the professionalism and expertise of the performers completely captivates our attention. Subtle sound effects and Maggie Thatcher’s dulcet tones bring the setting into modern times. From the start, Steven Page engages us with his masterful performance as the manipulative Iago. It is slightly disconcerting at first as he is surely Patrick Stewart’s doppelganger, however, this is soon forgotten as his wonderful baritone engulfs us. It is clear that Cassio (Rhys Bowden), Desdemona (Lorna Ruston) and Othello (Robin Pieta) will be putty in his hands.

All the cast perform their parts superbly and the music soars. Desdemona and Othello’s duet in Act I is touching and beautifully sung - even though you may know the outcome you cannot help but hope for a better one. There are too many parts of the performance that deserve acclaim to mention all of them, but I particularly enjoyed the interaction between Othello and Iago in Act II, the touching scene between Desdemona and Emilia (Marie-Claire op ten Noort) in Act IV and the dramatic and disturbing death scene in the final Act. There were no dips in the performances; they were superb throughout.

The Kent Sinfonia under Musical Director, Andrew Charity, is wonderful and completes a fully rounded and thoroughly enjoyable evening of superb music and performance. This is a production which should not be missed.  

Reviews by Gill Balfour

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The Blurb

A play. An opera. Two visions. Two voices. One story. Jealousy and deception, trust and trickery, love destroyed. A world of tall tales and derring-do. Of soldiers and heroes - and super-men with feet of clay. And, at the story’s heart, two women, lovers striving for some haven from a brutal world.