Othello | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Othello, at Barat College of DePaul University. Scott Parkinson's performance as Iago--an irresistible reason to see these free open-air performances of the Bard's domestic tragedy--drives home the truth that the play's greatest jealousy is Iago's, not Othello's. Delighting in disorder, the Moor's ensign is often depicted as gratuitously and unnaturally evil, but Parkinson makes it clear that Iago is a victim of the very fears he exploits in Othello. He suspects his superior of bedding his wife, Emilia. He covets the handsome Cassio's advancement. He envies the outsider Othello's triumph as a soldier. Those he can't kill he makes kill each other: Iago has never seemed more diabolical than when Parkinson, his voice oozing kindness, reluctantly informs Othello of his wife's "infidelities."

It's a performance magnetic enough to make coconspirators of us all, and Karla Koskinen's staging--which features a superb sound system and Linda Roethke's sumptuous (if stifling) Renaissance costumes--gives Parkinson's smooth serpent rich foils. Cassandra Bissell's plaintive Desdemona, a resourceful woman used to controlling others, turns believably frantic when she loses any sense of her husband's love. Brian Hamman makes Cassio the perfect clueless cat's-paw. As the unwittingly destructive Emilia, Laura Jones Macknin shows why Iago's wife is not above suspicion. Though Charles W. Glenn's towering Othello easily rises to every occasion, his descent into doubt comes a tad too quickly--unless we're to assume that he already distrusted his independent lover. But then here the truth is whatever's believed most fervently.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jennifer Girard.

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