'Othello' and 'Love's Labour's Lost' - Open Air Shakespeare 2018

The tradition of the SFC1 open air Shakespeare is now firmly established and this year we went one step further and staged a double-bill of Othello and Love’s Labour’s Lost.

Having moved the performances to May, in order to avoid all the exams and university open days that fill up the second half of the Summer Term, we were fortunate to be blessed with glorious weather. Even once the sun had set and a slight chill set in, with such marvellous entertainment, nobody minded feeling a little cold.

Othello was directed by Jenny and Karina who decided to update the setting to the Iraq war of 2003. This concept worked effectively and Natalia, dressed in full military camouflage, played the lead role with terrific passion and fluency.

The growing jealousy felt by Othello as Iago’s plan unfolds was painful to watch, and Zoi was very persuasive and crafty in her villainous role. Georgie played Desdemona as a very sweet and innocent wife, even on her deathbed quite uncomplaining at her husband’s ill treatment of her.

Jenny gave a strong performance as Emilia, showing her horror at the moment at which she discovers how her husband has involved her in his plot against the Moor. The casting had seemed like a bold choice at the outset but the directors’ vision proved perceptive, and in fact added more interest to moments such as Claire's complaints as Brabantio, upon hearing that his daughter was married to Othello.

Claire’s entrance down the spiral staircase outside the Music Department was particularly effective, and the use of the area beside the pond made for a tightly focussed performance from all involved. Overall this was a passionate and fast moving production which very much caught the spirit of the play.

Aoife began rehearsals with a very clear vision for her 1950s setting of Love’s Labour’s Lost. Her use of a thrust stage outside the Marble Corridor made the most of the bucolic setting of the Quad and gave an immediacy to the action, as her actors contemplated three years of serious study without access to the opposite sex.

This was a wonderfully talented cast of performers, who all showed a firm grasp of the witty banter of the young lovers. Mia was a brisk and sparkling Ferdinand, humorously countered by the melancholy Berowne played by Amy. On the female side, Lora demonstrated the elegance and sangfroid of the Princess while Regina caught the sarcasm of Rosaline to perfection.

Megan doubled as the lusty Jaquenetta and the more refined Maria with great skill, but the show was nearly stolen by the uproarious deadpanning of Beth as Costard and Edi as the pompous Don Adriano. This was a wonderfully amusing production with a real ensemble feel and reassured the audience that study is not the be all and end all. The play ends with the death of the French king and the postponement of the lovers’ union for a year, but with hope for the future.

Mr Smith, Director of Drama