at the Rose Playhouse, Bankside
for Remote Goat
We walk into a desert, strewn with the essentials of survival. Boxes, a camping stove. A lone prisoner, in orange overalls, lies chained under a polythene shroud.
It's Othello, whose inner turmoil – the torments of hell, maybe - make up this compelling monologue.
Marco Gambino makes a welcome return to the Rose, after performing the Italian version of this piece – La Colpa di Otello – at the ancient amphitheatre in Segesta this summer.
The words are Shakespeare's, repeated and re-purposed by director Roberto Cavosi.
Key words and phrases recur: “What dost thou think, Iago?” - handkerchief, confession, slave - “Leave me, Iago!”, “I am bound to thee forever.” Like Jekyll and Hyde, the two men seem locked in a self-destructive struggle, Othello's jealousy fuelled by his nemesis Iago. Occasionally another voice is heard: Emilia, Desdemona.
Gambino's Moor is a tortured soul – farewell the tranquil mind; he utters his thoughts in a rich Shakespearean tone with a touch of his native Sicily. There are snatches of dramatic music – Alfredo Santoloci the composer. And Othello's solitary life is punctuated with small rituals – making coffee, taking a piss, failing to light a roll-up, clumsily shaving. Sand runs through his fingers as Desdemona protests her innocence. He contemplates the green-eyed monster through a glass darkly. And finally crawls back under the polythene to lie with arms outstretched.
A powerful, poetical study of one man's conscience, making for an intensely moving hour in the company of a captive racked by guilt, grief and remorse.