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Othello - Frantic Assembly Review

Frantic Assembly revive their own hugely successful production of Shakespeare's Othello for a new UK tour. 

The cast of Frantic Assembly's Othello. Photo by Tristram Kenton

The adaptation by Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett roots the piece in the modern day which fits perfectly for this tense and gripping adaptation.

Largely staged in a pub's games room, with a pool table and fruit machine on the stage, Laura Hopkins has done a mighty job with her set design. It fits the world director Scott Graham has gone for and the sports-wearing and tracksuited costumes help in establishing the modern setting. The lighting by Natasha Chivers with additional work provided by Andy Purves is atmospheric in adding to the tense feel of the show.

The opening sequence of exquisitely choreographed movement and fighting sets the scene brilliantly and throughout there are some real visually striking moments provided through the movement of the cast, none more so than *spoiler alert* Desdemona's frankly harrowing death scene as she is strangled by Othello on top of the pool table. The cast's movement is slick and is superbly pulled off by the cast.

The twisty tale of deception, fear, and paranoia has at its core Iago, played by a fantastic Joe Layton. Iago's intentions are clear as he twists and plots, Layton acts this with real confidence and believability, his Iago is excellently driven especially as things begin to unravel for him right towards the end.

Michael Akinsulire (Othello) in Frantic Assembly's Othello. Photo by Tristram Kenton

Othello is played with authority by Michael Akinsulire. Commanding the stage especially as his rage grows for Cassio and Desdemona's potential infidelity. His brooding anger leads to a frankly un-nerving final sequence as things unravel and the blood flows. As he leaves the bathroom with his wrists slashed by the broken glass the theatre was in complete silence hooked by the drama unfolding. 

Chanel Waddock is a delectable Desdemona, trapped in this twisty romance and the plots going on around her. Waddock particularly impresses in the second act especially as her demise comes. That aforementioned strangling scene is so visually powerful. A match well made to Akinsulire as Othello.

There's fine work by the entire company with Tom Gill as Cassio and Felipe Pacheco as Roderigo giving stand-out work in every moment. Will Burton has done a stupendous job with the casting here.

Othello will rarely have felt more striking or powerful to a modern audience. This isn't a production that shies away from the darker elements and it'll make a great learning curve for students who will be able to soak up the power of Shakespeare's text in this staging. Nearly 15 years after its original premiere Frantic Assembly continues to flourish with this Shakespearean classic. It's electric, energetic and excellent throughout. 

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Othello continues at Curve until Saturday 1st October with tickets available from The tour continues with dates booking through until February 2023 tickets are available from

The cast of Frantic Assembly's Othello. Photo by Tristram Kenton.

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