Ten Thousand Things Theater cuts through all of the pretty language and centuries of expectations and gets right to the heart of “Othello” in its current production. It’s a play about jealousy, rage and revenge, and those emotions are never far from the surface in this strong and tight reading of the play.
With a nearly bare stage, simple costumes and only seven performers, the production cuts to the chase: Iago is jealous of Othello’s success and uses any means necessary to get his revenge for whatever unknown slight has occurred, and he doesn’t care about any of the lives he destroys along the way. Caught in his wake are not just Othello, but their wives, Desdemona and Emilya, and a number of others left dead or ruined by show’s end.
Luverne Seifert expertly plays both sides of Iago, the trusted ensign who will seemingly do anything for his commander and, behind his back, twist the knife and make endless plots. Ansa Akyea presents an Othello who at first seems a simple man; one who wears all of his feelings quite close to the surface. Yet as the plot ensnares him, Akyea presents more and more layers to his character, letting us, at least, understand what takes him down his awful, murderous path.
Christiana Clark presents the performance of the night as Emilya, whose innocent act of obeying her husband brings the final ruin to them all. Hers is a deep character, and Clark never stops exploring throughout the role.
Clocking in at around two hours, this is a fast-paced production, but one that never skimps on the complexities of the many characters. Even Iago, who can easily come off as a cackling, moustache-twirling bad guy, has immense depth here.
“Othello” runs through Nov. 8 at Open Book, 1011 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis, and Nov. 13-15 at the Minnesota Opera Center, 620 N. First St., Minneapolis. Tickets are $25, with $15 student tickets on Sundays. For information and reservations, call 1-800-838-3006 or visit online.