Yvonne Arnaud, Guildford – until 5 November 2022
Reviewed by Heather Chalkley
Director Scott Graham has taken Frantic Assembly in a new direction, taking a classic and well known text instead of the fresh, new material they usually play. He has successfully presented Shakespeare in a modern context, staying faithful to the script. No mean feat and well done.
Right from the first choreographed opening scene the audience is captured and drawn in. The Moor, Othello (Michael Akinsulire), from the start has a strong and commanding presence. Akinsulire delivers a physical performance as one unit with the cast, as well as the epic soliloquies Shakespeare is so famous for. Akinsulire portrays the honest and earnest character of Othello, who takes people at face value. His jealous nature is easily twisted and manipulated by Iago (Joe Layton). You see a visible change in Othello (Alkinsulire) as he becomes more duped by Iago’s words.
Felipe Pacheco plays Roderigo with a youthful naivety and a hormone fuelled infatuation with Desdemona, that brings an element of humour to the plot, despite the sinister intentions of Iago (Joe Layton).
The whole cast move fluidly throughout like one body, delivering Shakespearian text eloquently and naturally. It is a unique combination. The physicality of the performance stays true to Franctic Assembly’s style and is a great medium for Shakespeare. The choreography really pumps the audience and the scenes deliver a clear message, whether that is of youthful exuberance, passion or violence. Perry Johnson, co-choreographer, has cleverly captured the essence of each scene in movement.
Frantic Assembly have created a performance that makes Shakespeare accessible and exciting for young people and anyone else who has not studied the master.