Tag Archives: Scott Graham




Lyric Hammersmith

OTHELLO at the Lyric Hammersmith



“Michael Akinsulire’s Othello is a commanding presence.”


We are in a rough suburban pub. It could be London, but more likely a Northern province; the accents give nothing away. But the accentuation of Shakespeare’s words crackles with a dynamic menace that propels us headlong into the ensuing tragedy. Beer bottles and baseball bats are the weapons of choice, a pool table is the battlefield. Frantic Assembly’s fierce retelling drags “Othello”, kicking and screaming, well and truly into the twenty-first century. The jealousy, revenge, paranoia and racism are brought so close to home you can practically smell the beer on the breath; and you’re not sure if you’re about to be kissed or killed.

The opening sequence sets the theme. The electronic duo, Hybrid, provides a throbbing soundtrack that epitomises the tensions. The pecking order is beautifully established in the staccato movement that is both balletic and thuggish. Purists look away – but these moments evocatively replace much of the text that Scott Graham and Steven Hoggett have sliced from the original.

Michael Akinsulire’s Othello is a commanding presence. A powerful gang leader but with a gullibility and vulnerability that Akinsulire manages to pull off without it clashing with, or weakening, his power. Chanel Waddock is a fiery and feral Desdemona, genuinely baffled by the injustices of her husband’s accusations. The performances are powerful, yet unafraid to expose the weaknesses inherent in the characters. Weaknesses that are exploited by Joe Layton’s distrustful and fearful Iago. Layton’s unflinching performance sets the standard and throws down the gauntlet for others to match. Which they do. This is a tight-knit gang who move, think, and speak as one body.

The themes of jealousy and revenge in “Othello” are inherently heightened and often difficult to infuse with realism. It works with these characters, that are dangerous and youthful; fuelled by cheap alcohol and seeming social deprivation. Laura Hopkins’ fluid set displays the grimy claustrophobia that funnels the raging emotions. We never escape the pub setting, except when the walls unfold to reveal the back alleys. At other times the walls shift, threatening to envelop the characters as they sink further into the crevasses of their consequences.

Slightly overwhelming, it is nevertheless thrilling. The key moments are highlighted while superfluity is banished. There is a fine balance between the electrifying physicality and the subtle discourse. The tragic finale comes across as a bit rushed, with a body count veering on the comical. The fault lies in the script: as with some of his other plays, the loose ends seem to be tied up with a deadline-defeating desperation. It’s a flaw the writer can surely iron out with experience though! But with a performance as strong as this, Frantic Assembly will undoubtedly help to ensure that Shakespeare’s work achieves the longevity it deserves.



Reviewed on 24th January 2023

by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Tristram Kenton



Other Shows recently reviewed by Jonathan:


The Sex Party | ★★★★ | Menier Chocolate Factory | November 2022
Top Hat | ★★★★ | The Mill at Sonning | November 2022
Bugsy Malone | ★★★★★ | Alexandra Palace | December 2022
Handel’s Messiah: The Live Experience | ★★★ | Theatre Royal Drury Lane | December 2022
Potted Panto | ★★★★★ | Apollo Theatre | December 2022
Rumpelstiltskin | ★★★★★ | Park Theatre | December 2022
The Midnight Snack | ★★★ | White Bear Theatre | December 2022
Salt-Water Moon | ★★★★ | Finborough Theatre | January 2023
The Manny | ★★★ | King’s Head Theatre | January 2023
Wreckage | ★★★ | The Turbine Theatre | January 2023


Click here to read all our latest reviews


Review of Man to Man – 4 Stars

Man to Man thespyinthestalls

Man to Man

Wilton’s Music Hall

Reviewed – 13th September 2017





“Maggie Bain gave a strong physical performance and was instantly captivating as the courageous widow”


Man To Man is showing at Wilton’s Music Hall, a beautiful atmospheric building which hosted a packed out first night, including a few famous theatre and film faces dotted amongst the audience. Clearly this was a show not to be missed.

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The story is that of Ella, a woman forced to impersonate her dead husband during the Third Reich, in order to survive the challenges of life in Nazi Germany. Maggie Bain gave a strong physical performance and was instantly captivating as the courageous widow.

Innovative lighting effects (Rick Fisher) combined with moving shadows and video complimented the translated script (Alexandra Wood) well. Creative transitional lighting and sound (Mike Walker) helped to convey clear scene changes in this strong one woman piece. Frequent accent switches highlighted the snappy pace the script moves at for the audience, who in the first ten minutes may have been a little confused by alternating accents, of which none are German. Additionally, odd snippets of script seemed to be strewn together in a hard to follow order – don’t worry though as it all makes much more sense by the end.

Precise direction (Bruce Guthrie & Scott Graham) allowed Bain to make full use of the sloped stage, climbing the walls and rearranging the furniture. A flexible set (Richard Kent) allowed such versatility and took the audience from city apartment, to battlefield and back with ease.

Approximately two thirds of the way through, the script appeared to allow Bain to come to a natural close on stage. But as the pace slowed, the actor then continued exploring her life as a man in to further decades. I felt the audience shuffle and sigh as they approached the last twenty minutes. A real shame considering how magnetising the rest of the production is. Overall though, an interesting story performed strongly by a woman to watch. Well worth a visit.


Reviewed by Lucy Marsh

Photography by Polly Thomas




is at Wilton’s Music Hall until 23rd September



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