The setup: The Houston Shakespeare Festival production of Othello carries an unusual amount of star power. The tragically jealous Moor is played by The Wire alum Seth Gilliam, and the play is directed by OBIE-Award-winner Leah Gardiner. They each do excellent work.
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The execution: Gilliam is a convincing and powerful Othello, with a hulking physical presence and a biting way with the language. Gardiner's direction is stately and given to flashes of visual imagination, as when the ragingly jealous Othello exits the stage to a blazing red light.
But the out-of-towners have plenty of help, much of it from UH. Specifically, drama professor Jack Young (who also directs The Taming of the Shrew) is such an effective Iago that the crowd booed him at the curtain call. Tracie Thomason (Kate from Shrew) makes the potentially one-dimensional Desdemona into something more than a simple victim. As Emelia, wife of Iago, Pamela Vogel almost steals the tragic climax when she passionately accuses her husband of murder.
The verdict: A powerfully acted and directed production, this Othello will keep you on the edge of your seat until that final dagger blow. It's a first-rate production across the board.
Through August 6. For information, visit milleroutdoortheatre.org.