I spent Thursday evening at Maynardville watching the latest Shakespeare production; Othello. I have to confess I actually don’t enjoy Othello all that much due to the fact that I studied the play to death at High School, and I find it long, convoluted, not believable and a bit self-indulgent (am now scared of angry Shakepeare fans). However, despite the former and Eish-kom’s lack of power pushing back the play’s starting time slightly, it was a pleasant evening and I enjoyed it.
Maynardville really is a beautiful setting and we had a picnic by the lake before the performance. It was a still, gorgeous summer evening with egrets nesting in the middle of the pond, and happy families sharing sarnies and sipping wine contentedly in the park. A small puppy played nearby to us and an old couple languished on the pond’s banks – obviously experienced picnickers, with portable wine glass holders and a sunny yellow cooler box.
The stage itself is framed by trees and stars, with carefully placed props to evoke the scene. I wasn’t blown away by the performance, but it was good and some of the acting was exceptional. Othello was well cast and Iago kept us riveted with his evil trickery – I still find him a very boring, one-dimensional villain but he played his part well. Desdemona’s death (spoiler alert) was suitably tragic and Cassio certainly had ample womanising charms (the girl in front of me squealed every time he came on the stage). Shakespeare has some wonderfully witty turns of phrase in this play and these were well delivered, keeping the audience tittering.
If you’re looking for a way to while away balmy summer nights then Othello is a good option – Maynardville is a beloved part of Cape Town culture and Fred Abrahamse certainly has reason to be proud of his production.
In other news, isn’t this pic of Maggie Smith and Laurence Olivier awesome? It’s great to see Downton’s favourite dowager acting as Desdemona in the 1965 Othello film!