Othellocover “But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve / For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.” –  Act 1, Scene 1

Othello is a tragedy by William Shakespeare written in the 16th century. The story revolves around four central characters: Othello, a Moorish general in the Venetian army; his wife, Desdemona; his lieutenant, Cassio; and so called friend Iago. Racism, love, jealousy, and betrayal were the theme of the plot.

I remember seeing this movie ‘O’ back in 2001, a loose modern adaptation of this play. I steered from anything Shakespeare, having this mindset that the Elizabethan English will bore me and that I might not be able to follow the dialogue as the writing style are heavy. But I know I have to give it a try, Shakespeare plays remain highly popular today and are constantly studied, performed, and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts throughout the world.

There’s 2 of his works that I have seen (1) The Merchant of Venice, where I was sitting in the private balcony and spent a great deal of money but was in constant blur throughout the play for it was in Nihongo. The lead actor was Tatsuya Fujiwara (stars as Light Yagami, the lead role in Death Note). I was on holiday in Japan that time and up to now I questioned myself as to how the hell my friend talked me into watching it. (2) Romeo + Juliet 1996 film directed by Baz Luhrmann. Stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, we all know the story but wait till you see this movie, though the dialogues are Elizabethan I was still blown away by the modern adaptation of it especially the last part where seconds after Romeo took the poison, he saw Juliet opened her eyes – that scene was a breath taking .

Othello is a picnic in the park, literally. The play was meant to be viewed while you are lying in the grass, drinking wine with your picnic basket on your picnic blanket. This experience of hearing Shakespeare while munching your sandwich or eating my favorite chips made me attracted to purchase the tickets and watch. Surprisingly, I was able to follow the conversation though the language was an Elizabethan and more so, it captured my attention and interest and I never slipped into ennui at all – so this is ageing! I guess my comprehension was ready for it and I’m so glad I never get to tackle Shakespeare in high school as some of the teens from the audience cursed the dialogues during the intermission and murmured ‘ I will never do Shakespeare ever!’.

All the actors were very impressive memorizing their lines and speaking their part. They’re just so awesome, especially the characters of Iago and Othello. English was their native tongue but to speak Shakespeare was a challenge and yet they pronounced it clearly and eloquently. I think they tweaked some of the words to make it comprehensible that’s what the comment by an English lady sitting at the back of me because she was also surprised that she was able to understood lucidly. Tweak or no tweak because of this play I vow never to fear Shakespeare.

What an awful, awful misfortune for the characters of this tale. Curse that devious Iago and  damn that handkerchief!!!  The lesson I learned from the story is to borrow a quote from George Macdonald ‘ To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved’


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