PICK OF THE WEEK
Bassist Gary Peacock is many things: an innovator on his instrument, a key figure in the US avant-garde, and a collaborator with such giants of the piano as Bill Evans and Paul Bley. But he is best known as one third of the peerless Keith Jarrett trio. Peacock’s own trio, with Marc Copland on piano and Joey Baron on drums, is no second fiddle. An intimate, up-close way to experience a master at work. ROCK Pretty Beast Fresh off a stint filming in Las Vegas for the video for their new single Afraid to Remember, Dublin four piece Pretty Beast headline a bill, with support from This Other Kingdom and Farah Elle.
Marty Rea and Peter Macon in Othello, at the Abbey Theatre
OTHELLO What, or who, has gotten into Othello’s head?
The poster for the Abbey’s latest Shakespeare production may not be telling us anything we don’t already know, but it does find an arresting way to tell it: the face of Peter Macon’s Moorish general is ripped away to reveal the sinister eye of Marty Rea’s Iago, his demonic ensign, who stokes and even stage-manages his jealousy. Finding new ways to tell old stories may be a necessary condition of theatre, but Othello in particular demands careful re-evaluation.
A noble soldier who elopes with a passionate Desdemona, he is exoticised, scrutinised and undermined because of his colour, and driven to degenerate into unchecked rage. That can make it hard to distinguish between racist characters and a play with a racist conceit. (It doesn’t make it easier that the play has a long history of blackface interpretations – something the actor Simon Callow recently chose to defend.)
But the play shows some- thing angrier and sadder; how both racist and misogynistic views are internalised. Jealousy may be the green-eyed monster, but when even Othello, alone in a white world, speaks of “blackness” in corrosive terms, it’s more than Iago’s machinations that have gotten into his head.
Not everything in the play is black and white. Coincidentally, the Abbey has no history with Othello – directed by Joe Dowling, this will be the National Theatre’s first production of the play – which it is presenting as “a contemporary thriller”. That usually means “Shakespeare with guns”, but hopefully not. This play is explosive enough already.