Author: Sabine Kortals

Review: Kent, Macon buoy Colorado Shakespeare Festival production of ‘Othello’

The face of the Colorado Shakespeare Festival is so blasé.

(Above: photo by Jennifer Koskinen)

Sure, the guy featured on T-shirts, stanchions and inside of thousands of playbills is the whole reason people show up, but the tunic, pointed beard and receding hairline are so 1590s.

Instead of the same ol’, played out portrait, the symbolic countenance would be much better suited wearing a mop of sun-pecked hair and the irrepressible shadow of 5 o’clock whiskers. And, of course, wield the dictatorial punch of one of Colorado’s most magisterial manipulators.

That final epithet is exactly what Geoffrey Kent has embodied during his 13 seasons and dozens of productions with the CSF, and it is precisely the handle he deserves for his portrayal of Iago in this year’s production of Othello at the Mary Rippon Outdoor Theatre in Boulder.
For the second straight year, Kent bubbled to the front of the audience’s collective conscience by steering attention away from a title character penned by the Bard a handful of centuries ago. Last year he shined as Hotspur in Henry IV Part Iand this time around he embodies the ultimate Shakespearean malefactor made up of equal parts Benedict Arnold, Darth Vader and Mean Girls’ Cady Heron: Iago.
As a quick refresher, he’s the one who manages to convince the title character, who’s also a Moorish general, that his new wife, Desdemona (Laura Baranik), has been stepping out on him with Lieutenant Cassio (Peter Simon Hilton). All based on a well-placed purple napkin, a lot of peeved finger pointing, sobbing and stabbing ensues, naturally. It’s all coming rushing back to you now, right? Wonderful.
But as delightfully unsettling as it is to watch Kent play the expert puppeteer, he by no means hogs all of the outdoor spotlight from the show’s leading man. Emmy award-winner Peter Macon renders a ferocious Othello teeming with the passion, rage and affability required of any proper tragic hero. His brio swells consistently from start to finish, ultimately unleashing a slew of exceptional emotional explosions in the second act. The specific tirade featuring, “farewell the tranquil mind,” makes for a particularly potent dose of showmanship that allows the audience to truly embrace his tortured reasoning.
Throughout the roughly three-hour show, first-time CSF director Lisa Wolpe clearly allows both Macon and Kent to rightfully take charge of the production’s energy levels, to which the two leaders respond with gusto, giving the audience little reason to complain. The villain and hero appropriately carry the brunt of the load in terms of both style and delivery…read Quincy Snowden’s full review of “Othello” in the Aurora Sentinel.