Review Round Up: Othello, Shakespeare’s Globe

Mark Rylance and Sheila Atim star in Clare van Kampen’s production of Othello. Here’s what critics have been saying about it… 


The Guardian: **** “in an age of concept-driven Shakespeare, it is refreshing to find a show that puts the emphasis squarely on the play and the acting.”

WhatsOnStage: *** “In the end, for all the anticipation, this Othello is a disappointment, enjoyable moment to moment but never moving or revelatory.”

The Times: **** “Rylance sports the small moustache beloved by small men. He races round the stage, a comical figure, hard to take seriously even as he weaves his deadly plot against the general, Othello, who had the nerve to promote another soldier, Cassio, above him. At first Iago seems only irritating, a fly in our soup, until we realise that he’s much worse than that and that he’s fooled us too.”

The Stage: **** “Van Kampen’s production is full of raucousness and laughter but, just as in one scene when Cassio suddenly flips from being a merry drunk to a violent drunk, so the production entices by being cheery – until it’s not.”

Evening Standard: *** “The production makes the play’s geography feel vague, and the comic flourishes sometimes obscure its emotional weight. But the final scenes retain their timeless, stunning, suffocating power.”

Broadway World: *** “While this production doesn’t have the wow factor, it’s very easy on the eye and features performances that will live long in the memory.”

The Independent: **** “Sheila Atim’s Emilia is wasted in the earlier acts – her marriage to Iago is curiously under-explored — but the performance flares into glorious life later on, first in the touching scene where, as she readies her mistress for bed, she tenderly harmonises with Desdemona’s “Willow Song” and shares her wry thoughts on sexual double standards.”

The FT: **** “It’s a pacy (cut) production that finds a deal of comedy in the play and lets the horror steal out from behind the humour. This doesn’t always work: in some places playing for laughs seems perverse and the sheer dread that precedes the play’s terrible ending goes missing.”

The Upcoming: *** “You can’t say Claire van Kampen’s Othello isn’t Shakespeare’s Shakespeare. In the Globe’s Disneyland version of Elizabethan England, the director has overseen a production that does exactly what it says on the tin, seemingly existing to provide Mark Rylance with an opportunity to step back in time once more.”

The Reviews Hub: ***”Holland’s compelling performance aside, this is an unintense production that doesn’t dig deeply enough for the racial and sexual politics of the play – or, simply, its tragedy – to resonate as they should.”

British Theatre Guide: “This production conveys much of the spirit and essence that one would expect from a Globe production of one of the great Shakespearean tragedies, although some of the body language and gestures are very much of the 21st century, that impression consolidated by the leading actor’s American accent.”

Othello continues to play at the Shakespeare’s Globe until the 13th October for more information visit:

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