Performed on the viewing platform of the archaeological site that is the Rose Theatre, Time Zone’s Othello is reduced not only in cast size and running time but in stature and power, director Pamela Schermann trading tragedy for the moving ironies of melodrama.
With a cast of five – the two married couples and Cassio – and heavy cutting that includes almost all of the first act, the play is set in the modern offices of what might be Othello Enterprises, the few surviving references to military matters allowed to go by unexplained.
The textual editing leaves Iago completely dominating the first half of the play, Trevor Murphy more successful in capturing the character’s delight in his own cleverness than the malice that drives him.
James Barnes’ rather subdued Othello never really seizes the centre of the play, which becomes at best a two-hander for much of the second half, though Barnes does generate some sympathy in the final scene.
The cutting also reduces both Desdemona and Cassio to such skeletal roles that Samantha Lock and Denholm Spurr can do little with them, though Ella Duncan’s Emilia is allowed to register strongly in both the comedy of the Willow Scene and the courage of her last-scene defiance.