Thursday, June 16, 2005

Shaky Shakespeare:
Cal Shakes's erratic Othello still suits the moment

San Francisco Bay Guardian
By Robert Avila
THERE ARE A lot of believers floating around this supposedly secular and disillusioned age. The general rapacity and chaos of the system seem to call up both extremes at once. But it's no surprise those at the top like to strike garish poses when it comes to shows of piety and honor. In the politics of war and rapine, such shows are wonderfully distracting baubles on the chest of naked, predatory power.

California Shakespeare Theater's uneven, but at times electric, production of Othello, which opens the company's new season, reminds us how Iago--exercising pure will for its own sake without the hindrance of beliefs of any kind--is the more familiar figure of our age. It's maybe fitting, if not essential, that the modern setting evokes a cross between a sterile office building and Camp X-ray (while the wooden framework, chicken wire, splotchy paint, and cascade of opaque windows making up Annie Smart's set also suggest a degree of impermanence in the flimsy, makeshift quality of a military fort or bivouac).


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