Deep in the basement of The Curtains Up pub in West London something special is happening; a group of young creative professionals have turned a grassroots plan into a vibrant reality. Creating a theatre company, finding a venue and putting on a show is no easy task – it takes months of dedication and hard work – but Diyan Zora, Christina Turner and the rest of the Swivel Theatre team have realised that goal, and what better way to show off all that hard work than with Othello, one of Shakespeare’s most celebrated tragedies.
The tiny basement room hummed with anticipation, and when the lights dimmed and the audience hushed the ambitious project faced its final test. Iago (Tom Fava) and Roderigo (Chris Paddon) burst onto the scene and instantly set the mood with engaging and energetic pace. The duo played off each other well and with the introduction of Brabantio (David Dawkins) the performance began to gather some real momentum. As new characters appeared it became clear that this was no amateur production and that the team were out to impress.
Othello is arguably one of the hardest Shakespearean roles. El Razzougui manages to achieve a fine balance and controls himself with confidence and finesse. He easily captures Othello’s fall from grace, and his mislaid trust in Iago is painful to watch. Fava’s portrayal of Iago is again a huge success. He slides in and out of monologues with great skill and depicts the character’s deceit and wickedness well.
However, as much as the night was a success and the project a massive accomplishment, there are cracks in the performance. It is apparent that this is an early production; certain scenes lack chemistry, occasionally the actors seem to lose their footing and inconsistencies appear. For instance, Razzougui’s portrayal of Othello is on the whole a good one, but he does dwindle towards the end. There’s something not quite believable about his final breakdown, the pinnacle standoff of the play, he just doesn’t make me feel his plight as much as he could do. The entire last scene lacks a certain flow that makes the finale slightly disengaging; even Fava, who was generally very good, disappointed slightly as he seemed to fizzle instead of going out with a bang.
It is hard to criticise this production. It was extremely bold and generally very well executed. I just can’t help but feel that at times the lack of experience is noticeable, but that’s to be expected and I’m sure that as the shows go on, Swivel Theatre will simply get better and better. At £15 it really is worth a watch.
For more information on Othello see the website here.