Show Details

southwark playhouse

Tues May 25th – Sat June 12th 2010

Performances 7.30pm
(Saturday Matinees 3pm)

Otieno

Zimbabwe 2008. The impending elections bring hope to a country left raw by oppression. Will Tsvangirai topple Mugabe? Otieno, a militia leader protecting a white farm under siege by Mugabe’s war veterans, secretly marries the white farmer’s daughter. But Otieno’s confidante Ian is sowing seeds of jealousy to destroy their love…

A contemporary reworking of Shakespeare’s Othello, set against the continuing deprivation of present-day Zimbabwe. This visceral new play brings a brutal beauty to the well-known tragedy of violence and betrayal.


Cast & Crew

cast

Otieno | Trevor Michael Georges
Kagiso | Kevin Golding
Ian | Jack Hawkins
Diana | Sian Goff
Rufaro | David Ajao
Howard | David Charles
Vick | Michael Hayes
Bamedele | Rhoda Ofori-Attah

production team

Producer | Heather Doole
Director | Poppy Burton-Morgan
Designer | William Reynolds
Costume Designer | Katharine Heath
Assistant Producer | Guy Dorey
Assistant Director | Erica Miller


Gallery


Reviews

‘There’s freshness and thrilling immediacy to this exciting, intelligent reworking of Shakespeare’s Othello by Trevor Michael Georges. Directed with verve by Poppy Burton-Morgan, it is much more than a concept production. The raw, rapid-fire dialogue is Georges’ own, though it riffs on the imagery and motifs of the original… Burton-Morgan’s staging immediately establishes hair-trigger tension and a disturbing sense that horrific violence has become routine… this is a highly effective, imaginative response to the classical play that both grips and stirs.’ Sam Marlowe in The Times

‘The structure and themes of ‘Othello’ work scarily well here, and Georges is clever enough to let the discourse on race burble quietly beneath the dialogue – until it explodes. Designer William Reynolds has put together a deceptively simple set of beer crates, barbed-wire fence and sand dyed an ominous pink, but it’s the use of torches – the visual equivalent of the flashes of humour in Georges’s script – that really heightens the tension in a play whose outcome is, after all, a foregone conclusion…this is an astute demonstration of the ugly truth that nothing is fair in love or war.’ Nina Caplan in Time Out (Critics’ Choice)

‘William Reynolds’ design is striking and one of the best things about the production. The lighting perfectly suits the changing mood…The use of recordings of actual coverage of the 2008 elections, including some of President Mugabe’s own speeches, is also effective in contextualising and sustaining the oppressive atmosphere of the piece. As Ian, Jack Hawkins plays the villain with aplomb and his easy laughter which never quite lights his eyes is deeply unsettling, while Trevor Michael Georges’ Otieno is commanding and tender making his swing into violence that much more poignant. Poppy Burton-Morgan’s direction is skilled, particularly in the final scenes as the final elements of Ian’s plan are put into play around the bed of a sleeping Diana.’ Laura Norman in What’s on Stage

‘For anyone who doubts that a modern rewriting of a Shakespearean tragedy can pack the emotional and intellectual punch of its antecedent, this is the one to change your mind… William Reynolds’s lighting design is moody and stark, while his floor of blood-red sand evokes the heat and desolation of the country, standing in for blood itself when Diana’s impeccably white t-shirt (and skin) is dragged through it. Racism, betrayal, violence and destruction of body and mind are writ large but played with subtlety and authenticity… Director Poppy Burton-Morgan uses this cracking cast to great effect. The direction is smart and slick, playing with light and shadow to increase the dramatic tension… Gunshots in the dark instantly ratchet up the tension levels and give us a glimpse into a world of sudden shocking retribution; a brilliantly conceived metaphor for Zimbabwe.’ Katty Pearce in Fringe Review

‘The whole piece, tightly directed by Poppy Burton-Morgan for Metta Theatre is fast-paced in its minimalist staging, clever use of torches and darkness and efficient controlled explosions…exciting, moving and a compelling theatrical experience.’ Church Times

‘The pairing of Othello and Zimbabwe works all too well… Highly recommended.’ Alice Dickerson in London SE1

‘Trevor Michael Georges’ beautiful writing, integrated original Shakespeare text and plot outline into a powerful contemporary play. He also did a pretty fantastic job at playing Otieno. The revengeful Otieno was terrifyingly painful to watch, as was same broken man at the end… The last half hour of the play brilliantly maintained the tension and suspense, acting from everyone was sublime… Using a minimalist setting Poppy Burton-Morgan as director has created a powerful, believable tale of love, power and revenge. The use of minimalist lighting was ingenious; at times you could barely see the performers which helped create a suspenseful atmosphere. Shakespeare, I think, would have been delighted.’ Susan Rogers in Southwark News

‘… beautifully lit as locations change at the change of a light, staged naturally in a sparse setting with agile movement. The cast are sincere and strongly credible… the story is never forced, the cause is just, the company devoted, and worthy of being seen.’ Blanche Marvin in London Theatre Review