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  Othello at Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Othello

Chicago Shakespeare Theater
800 East Grand Avenue Chicago

Fresh from Shakespeare's Globe and Royal Shakespeare Company, renowned British director Jonathan Munby returns to Chicago to stage Shakespeare's most intimate tragedy. In a black and white world, Othello and Desdemona fall in love, but the distinguished commander knows no maneuvers for the affairs of the heart. A stranger in a strange land, he falls under Iago's spell, mistaking a lethal enemy for his closest ally. Here, Shakespeare excavates the most elemental of human emotions: the all-consuming passion of love-and jealousy, featuring James Vincent Meredith in the title role.

Thru - Apr 10, 2016



Price: $48-$88

Show Type: Drama

Box Office: 312-595-5600

Running Time: 2hrs, 55mins; one intermission

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  Othello Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Chicago Tribune - Somewhat Recommended

"...This locally created "Othello" is clear, lively and quite expansively theatrical, and the audience Sunday night responded with genuine warm regard (I was, in fact, berated from the rear for not clapping harder). But while there is a lot to admire, I remained on its outside, wondering about these two central couples and what they all really felt."
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Chris Jones


Chicago Sun Times - Highly Recommended

"...Just when you might be convinced there is nothing more to be said or done with Shakespeare’s mighty tragedy, “Othello” — whether as a play, a ballet, an opera or a film — along comes British director Jonathan Munby’s utterly faithful yet endlessly revelatory production for the Chicago Shakespeare Theater."
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Hedy Weiss


Chicago Reader - Somewhat Recommended

"...Unfortunately, director Jonathan Munby overlooks the fundamentals that give this tragedy its scope. He does a fine job painting this Venice as a skittish security state-his situation room, where the CEO-like duke declares war despite manifestly faulty intelligence, is particularly well drawn-but treats Othello like one among many military commanders rather than a cultural icon who can disarm an armed mob with a single sentence (a line unwisely cut from this production). With Othello given such diminished stature, the threat of his demise is likewise diminished, and Iago's revenge shrinks to a personal grudge."
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Justin Hayford


TheatreMania - Highly Recommended

"...By the time the final act body count has reached its apex, the laughter is long gone. What you're left with is an unblinking, disquieting look at evil. Iago talks about the monster within, but it's not monsters that make Othello so powerful. It's the fact that Iago blends in perfectly with the world around him. He's someone you'd pass without a second glance. He's invisible, until it's too late. And that's what makes Othello at once frightening and thought-provoking."

Catey Sullivan


Talkin Broadway - Highly Recommended

"...Munby's Othello is a muscular and sexy one. With just four women in the cast-the lovely Melissa Carlson is cast as the Duke of Venice in addition to Laura Rook's very funny turn as a sexy Italian accented Bianca-the sexual tension among the soldiers is palpable. We see how women are in short supply on this military outpost on the island of Cyprus and how it's driving the soldiers crazy. In a nod to the film Top Gun, the soldiers even serenade Desdemona with a chorus of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling." Munby's production is a great addition to the Shakespeare 400 Chicago celebration. It's the real deal with the original text, and a modern dress concept that is not at all contrived but makes the story more accessible to today's audiences without compromising the original intent."
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John Olson


Time Out Chicago - Somewhat Recommended

"...Deliberately or not, Meredith, who previously played the role in a Writers Theatre production in 2007, hasn’t accessed the same inner turmoil he found in Othello then. Neither does Milligan find much shading in his portrayal of villainous Iago; Bethany Jillard’s Desdemona is drawn as a frilly girl who should never have accompanied Othello to battle (complete with the visual gag of her showing up with a plethora of designer luggage), but you never quite feel the depth of devotion between the couple that Iago schemes to undermine. And Philip Rosenberg’s harsh, cold lighting design makes the whole thing a little chilly. For all the blood that’s shed by its end, this Othello is a little bloodless."
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Kris Vire


Chicago On the Aisle - Highly Recommended

"...What is so striking about the current, altogether marvelous production of "Othello" at Chicago Shakespeare Theater is that the beleaguered Moor is no mere catalyst in the very events of which he is the object, but rather presents himself as a man - a great military general - worthy of his reputation."
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Lawrence B. Johnson


Stage and Cinema - Recommended

"...Grim gray barracks, fortress walls topped with razor wire, smart salutes from sentry towers, cut-away trailers deployed as offices and housing, fluorescent lights draining the colors from mess camps, cold apartment facades–all plunged in a techno-industrial rock mix. That’s the button-down, by-the-numbers, and very militarized backdrop for this authoritarian take from UK director Jonathan Munby. It’s Othello at Chicago Shakespeare Theater and there’s a fire fight on Navy Pier."
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Lawrence Bommer


ChicagoCritic - Highly Recommended

"...Though Othello is a simple story which takes a long time to unfold, James Vincent Meredith in the title role and Michael Milligan as Iago are so fascinating to watch that the time flies by, and Shakespeare’s language sounds fully alive."
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Jacob Davis


Chicago Stage Standard - Highly Recommended

"...And then we have the CST play. No confusion on race here: Othello is a tall, powerful black man in the person of James Vincent Meredith who owns this stage, but clearly has a truly fatal flaw. He is a crappy judge of character and once someone has set the jealousy lens over his eyes, he is incapable of seeing anything else."

Angela Allyn


Around The Town Chicago - Highly Recommended

"...The telling of this tale become much easier when you have a cast of players such as the one assembled here. If one truly analyzes “Othello”, one might, in fact, call it a psychological thriller instead of the tragedy it has been labeled over the years."
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Alan Bresloff


NewCity Chicago - Recommended

"...The action of the play occurs in a modern-day, presumably American military camp, where the strict pageantry of salutes and sober hierarchy hovers lightly over a situation constantly on the verge of acute fulmination. Whether erupting in violence or campy renditions of “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling,” such juxtaposition highlights the absurdity of any group governed by an excess of testosterone."
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Irene Hsiao


Chicago Theatre Review - Highly Recommended

"...For many audience members, this play is one of Shakespeare's more familiar stories. CST, under Jonathan Munby's sensitive, energetic direction, has found a way to make this "Othello" fresh and timely, putting their own unique spin on the Bard's work and reinventing this tragedy as a contemporary tale of jealousy, bigotry and revenge. They've mounted an exciting production that both tells a story known by most, while still offering a number of surprises. Mr. Munby manages to bring a new sensibility to this piece. Setting the production against the backdrop of modern day conflicts, this tale of jealousy and revenge feels even more contemporary and cautionary than ever."
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Colin Douglas


Chicagoland Theater Reviews - Highly Recommended

"...“Othello” ends grimly, with no side plots or narrative distractions along the way. The play includes 10 supporting characters and numerous ensemble figures, but it’s basically a two-man show. If the actors who play Othello and Iago are up to the mark, the drama is an intense and absorbing viewing experience. The Chicago Shakespeare Theater has its uneven elements, but it is solid in the portrayals of the two main characters, and that’s basically all that counts."

Dan Zeff


Chicago Theater Beat - Highly Recommended

"...While this production of Othello may not jump out as blatantly innovative, it subtly increases the play’s relevance while staying true to the script and its timeless message concerning the green-eyed monster. The tremendous cast excels in honoring Shakespeare’s language while also making it their own and realizing Munby’s vision. Although Iago warns that "To be direct and honest is not safe," I’ll risk it here: you should see this compelling, well-executed production."

Keith Glab


Third Coast Review - Recommended

"...British director Jonathan Munby finds the humor amidst the racism and uxoricide in Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s “Shakespeare 400 Chicago” production of Othello."
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Karin McKie


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   This show has been Jeff Recommended*

*The designation of "Jeff Recommended" is given to a production when at least ONE ELEMENT of the show was deemed outstanding by the Joseph Jefferson Awards Committee.


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