New York | 2h 50m | Already closed

Othello (The Public Theater)

From 30 critic and 123 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Intense, Intelligent, Great staging

About the show

Tony winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson returns to Shakespeare in the Park to direct a new production of 'Othello.' More…

Set amid war and palace intrigue in the 17th-century Mediterranean, this classic drama about a noble Black Venetian general whose marriage is sabotaged by theater’s most infamous villain, Iago, remains one of Shakespeare’s most relevant tragedies today.

2h 50m | Already closed | The Delacorte Theatre (Upper W Side)


“This production is beyond memorable, especially but not exclusively because of Iwuji’s performance...Stoll delivers the goods...Both funny and horrific in appropriate measures...Iago and Othello are well-matched...In a production where race matters, casting should go accordingly...Yet, Santiago-Hudson has successfully challenged my presumption. Othello’s otherness can hinge on much more than skin tone, and here it does. I am grateful for the lesson...This production is my favorite.” Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“Santiago-Hudson has taken a radical approach...relying entirely on the strength of the text...This is as cleanly staged and clearly spoken an ‘Othello’ as I have ever experienced, revealing the play's fine bone structure and charting an unstoppable course to tragedy...This 'Othello' ranks among the finest I have seen, based on its swift, sure-handed direction and incisive performances. It offers a bracing reminder that Shakespeare's indelible words are more than enough.” Full Review

Wolf Entertainment Guide

“The gripping staging gives fresh life to the tragedy...Cast is first-rate...Iwuji’s acting immediately gives him genuine stature and a charismatic persona...A tremendous, memorable performance...Stoll’s Iago...Achieves nastiness on all counts and adds to this presentation's success...Lind exhibits a streak of spirit as well as victimhood...Wright comes through with vibrant, deeply moving rage...The murder scene is so visually effective that it can hold an audience spellbound.” Full Review

The Wrap

"Iwuji is ultimately upstaged by a truly brilliant performance by Corey Stoll as the duplicitous Iago...Stoll also brings an admirable plain-spokenness to his lines, which are delivered with a conversational brio that makes the audience even more complicit in his murderous schemes. But Stoll is not the only standout on stage...Director Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s production is a revelation, galloping through three hours of drama without ever getting bogged down in exposition or stuffiness." Full Review

Entertainment Weekly

"Director Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s confidently unfussy staging, and many of the performances by a cast that includes several Public Theater regulars, are a thrill to witness...As villianous Iago, Stoll brings a comic’s timing and puts over even very well known lines as if he is speaking extemporaneously. It is not only a delight to watch, it is a boon to anyone who avoids Shakespeare for fear of missing the meaning...This is a traditional take on the Moor, with all the trimmings." Full Review


“Santiago-Hudson has successfully led his cast to performances that make all of these characters complicated, contradictory, and fully human...Far from an irrational brute, Iwuji portrays a military man ahead of his time...Stoll's Iago is confident, funny, and relaxed...Wright gives a standout performance...The production's one major misstep, Wieland's synth-heavy original compositions...Luckily, it doesn't much detract from Santiago-Hudson's timely production.” Full Review

New York Stage Review

“Pleasingly straightforward presentation...Just because these annually awaited productions are free doesn’t mean they’re invariably good. This one is: Very, very good...Where Iwuji and Santiago-Hudson may go a mite too far is in Othello’s rapid descent into jealous rage...Still, it’s a relatively minor thing when weighed against Iwuji’s strengths...An unusually strong cast of Shakespeareans.” Full Review


"The Public Theater's beloved Shakespeare in the Park program often attracts numerous newcomers to the Bard's work, and Ruben Santiago-Hudson's blessedly gimmick-free production is tailor-made for those viewers, clearly elucidating the show's central narrative and highlighting its gorgeous language." Full Review

New York Stage Review

“Iwuji is by turns commanding, cocky, cold, and charismatic in the title role...For his part, Stoll is a surprisingly down-to-earth Iago—a welcome change from previous evil-to-the-core Iagos...Perhaps even more impressive than Iwuji and Stoll are Lind and Wright, who turns in a wonderfully fiery performance as Iago’s wife and Desdemona’s attendant...This is a beautifully dressed production, to be sure and it’s a substantial one as well.” Full Review


"Lind and Wright skillfully, and at times heartbreakingly, convey the struggles of their characters as they consider their supposed duty to their husbands against the iniquities to which these men subject them...Stoll stands out as one of the most easily comprehensible Shakespeare performers around...Because the production makes no effort to modernize 'Othello' by design, it is all the more powerful to nonetheless recognize the present in it." Full Review

Fordham Observer

“A classic, straightforward, traditional, and unambiguous production that searches for meaning at the most basic root of this long-admired work...A take that chooses to embrace ‘Othello’ as a story of tragic love first, political and racial tragedy second, Santiago-Hudson has thus afforded a refreshingly original production behind the guise of a classic presentation...He’s stocked the production with actors who know their Shakespeare well, and it’s paid off.” Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Purists should have nothing to complain about with respect to the largely traditional three-hour performance...This 'Othello' is decidedly in good hands. It offers up well-delineated characters whose dialog is cleanly delivered and whose actions are readily comprehensible...In addition to bringing out the psychological underpinnings of his characters, Santiago-Hudson heightens the contemporary feel by emphasizing the play's racism." Full Review

Village Voice

“Wisely allows no offbeat concepts to obscure the story...The cool and stately nature of this 'Othello' during its beginning sequence contrasts powerfully with the horror and desolation of the closing scenes...Santiago-Hudson calculates this effect astutely...Othello seems obviously to be under the baneful influence of Iago from the story’s beginning, a telegraphing that tends to diminish the distance of the character’s fall from greatness. Still, Corey Stoll is difficult to resist as Iago." Full Review


"Several major productions in recent years have set William Shakespeare’s tragedy in modern times... So it becomes something of a radical choice for director Ruben Santiago-Hudson to do away with such notions. His exhilarating staging of this tale of jealousy, racism and revenge, opening the season’s free Shakespeare in the Park from the Public Theater, puts the play back where its author intended, 16th century Venice." Full Review


“What this production lacks in fireworks it more than makes up for in its understanding of the psychology of the two main characters...It’s what Santiago-Hudson doesn’t do as much as what he does that makes the production so gripping...Breakout performance of the evening was Wright as Desdemona’s handmaiden...She is smart and sharp, and steals the last scenes of the show with her powerful presence...Not the most moving production...but it was a mighty fine way to spend the evening.” Full Review


“An ‘Othello’ that does its best to put the focus on the killer and his doomed Desdemona...It’s an approach that works here and there....Iwuji couldn’t be more straightforward as the fatally jealous ‘Othello’...Stoll plays Iago from an altogether different angle, viciousness disguised as affability...His conversational, contemporary spin contrasts nicely with Iwuji’s more classical delivery – they’re a vivid pair...Most indelible, though, is Wright...Emilia is the voice that rings loudest.” Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"A satisfying and somewhat safe domestic tragedy rather than an epistemological nightmare...There’s a concrete practicality to nearly every choice, with the result that there’s little here to surprise you, but a lot to keep you entertained...Stoll’s Iago is a revelation. He cannot be written off as a demon, you must instead reckon with the evil in him because it finds a distant echo in the petty jealousies of your own heart." Full Review


"Director Santiago-Hudson gives us an intelligent, cool reading of a play that can be intense and hotheaded...Stoll's Iago is less a puppetmaster than a gladhanding, gaslighting politician...Chukwudi Iwuji's fresh, open performance makes Othello seem like a naif, instead of a war-tested soldier. We are not surprised he can be conned. Instead, Iago's counterweight is his wife Emilia...This production elevates her, so that she becomes one of Shakespeare's memorable women." Full Review

Front Row Center

"A big disappointment in almost every department...Any interpretive directorial choices...aren’t much present, and the result is a tame, by-the-book production. Even the staging is formulaic textbook stuff, the kind of physical mounting one would expect of a college show, which it pretty much resembles...Unable to rise to the level of its subject matter...This curiously anemic production resists its own call to urgency and relevance.” Full Review

The New York Times

"Ruben Santiago-Hudson’s elegantly staged production is good-looking, well-spoken and intelligent, as easy on the ears as it is on the eyes. But you know that you’re not going to be dreaming about it later, or wishing that you could see it again. It’s a picturesque, nicely paced show that engages without enthralling or unsettling...While Iwuji and Stoll turn in crisp and lucid performances as the great general Othello and his envious ensign Iago, they don’t really stand out in a talented crowd." Full Review


“Shakespeare's English sounds absolutely gorgeous when emitted from Nigerian-born British actor Iwuji…Stoll's Iago is of a contemporary, streetwise variety…But aside from the performances of its two leading men, this ‘Othello’ tends to lie flat. While the supporting company seems perfectly capable, the excitement generated by the finely nuanced performances of Iwuji and Stoll is never approached...A memorable event and a bit of a disappointment.” Full Review


"The strength of Ruben Santiago-Hudson's unfussy production of Shakespeare's tragedy 'Othello' is that it is conventional and traditional, with the inclusion of one contemporary idea. On the other hand, that is also its major weakness. The cast led by Corey Stoll, Chukwudi Iwuji, Heather Lind and Alison Wright is competent and engrossing as is the storytelling and the clear diction, but there are few memorable performances. An inoffensive, uncontroversial version of a classic Elizabethan play." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"Mostly conventional, textbook staging…Only a few minor directorial flourishes stand out…Avoids underlining the play's contemporary relevance…James has dressed Othello in a sexy ensemble that makes…Iwuji look more like a biker bad boy than the Moorish general…The performance of this very difficult role is intelligent and emotional but falls short of being tragically powerful…Wright is so consistently honest and real, she makes this often neglected secondary role shine." Full Review

Theater Life

"Stoll’s Iago is a tad too light-hearted and comical in his villainy...Chukwudi Iwuji’s Othello is properly commanding and passionate, but switches on the anger too abruptly, accelerating into full explosion mood with little transition...Despite these shortcomings, Santiago-Hudson delivers a compelling, straightforward telling of Shakespeare’s tale of jealousy, aided by Rachel Huack’s elegantly simple set, Toni-Leslie James’ rich period costumes, and Jane Cox’s sensitive lighting." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"Flat production...Not to say that The Public should necessarily catapult the 15th-century work into modern times, but I do believe as a theater of the people and for the people, it’s an opportunity to explore the play’s themes of racial tension, political deceit, and female suppression...Hudson’s direction gives freedom to the acting company’s interpretation of the text, failing to reel them into a cohesive ensemble embodying the same world of the play." Full Review

The evil that men do.

See it if you like Shakespeare, especially his tragedies.

Don't see it if Shakespeare--whether it's one of his tragedies, comedies, or anything else--just isn't your thing.

Also "Othello" is perhaps the leanest and meanest of all of Shakespeare's w... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Thought-provoking, Resonant

See it if you enjoy classic Shakespeare and love the story of Othello. Every part is excellently cast, especially Chukwudi Iwuji. The women are epic.

Don't see it if you mostly like Shakespeare's comedies. The language in Othello is notoriously difficult to follow. You'll need to pay good attention.

Must see, Masterful, Riveting

See it if you enjoy a professional, quality production of one of Shakespeare's most well-known works, or have never seen Othello on stage before.

Don't see it if you really dislike Shakespearean grammar and long acts.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Must see, Riveting

See it if you enjoy Shakespeare done in a masterful, accessible way.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy Shakespeare or get bored trying to follow the language. It is rather long.

Riveting, Masterful, Great acting, Intense

See it if You want to see actors at the top of their game. If you love Shakespeare and want to see a different take on the lead characters.

Don't see it if Don’t like intense story line with no happy ending.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Masterful, Must see

See it if You like Shakepeare outdoors, to see great acting, enjoy NYC theatre in the round, to enjoy a beautiful venue in a summer night. Masterful

Don't see it if You don't like Shakepeare, or you don't like being outdoors.

Great acting, Absorbing, Entertaining, Intense

See it if You want a production of traditional Shakespeare in the great outdoors of Central Park. Great performances, beautiful set and costumes.

Don't see it if You don't want to sit through a three hour show or see serious drama.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intense, Intelligent

See it if You want to see a very solid version of Othello with a strong cast from the leads to the smaller parts and beautiful costumes in the Park.

Don't see it if You want the normal physically imposing Othello: having a lither Othello took a minute to get used to, but his acting was strong.

Also The leads did a fine job with Corey Stoll completing his hat trick of ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Relevant, Must see

See it if You love Shakespeare and can easily understand his dialogue. You admire great acting.

Don't see it if You are not a fan of dramas.

Great acting, Entertaining, Absorbing, Riveting

See it if You like well-done Shakespeare, and in period clothing at that!! (And if you like Heather Lind and/or Alison Wright and/or Corey Stoll !)

Don't see it if You don't like to see insects flying around actors, hoping they don't accidentally swallow them while tackling Shakespeare.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Great writing, Intense

See it if you like Shakespeare's tragedies virtually uncut; an Iago who has humor & can sometimes seem genial (I loved Stoll's performance,many don't)

Don't see it if almost 3 hours is too long for you, you want a totally menacing Iago; don't want the risk of rain or outside noises (sirens, helicopters etc

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Epic, Intense

See it if You have an appreciation for Shakespeare, theatre in nature, and great acting.

Don't see it if You don’t like Shakespeare or get nervous by the elements of nature getting in the way of the performance.

Also All four principal performances were mesmerizing, with Corey Stoll’s I... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Entertaining, Brilliantly written, Clear, Funny

See it if you want to see a clear, strong production of Shakespeare’s devastating, most beautifully constructed tragedy.

Don't see it if you have seen so many Othellos in your life that you require a bold new reading of the play to bring you to the theater.

Also “Othello” is Shakespeare’s most perfectly constructed tragedy. Ending ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great staging, Intelligent, Melodramatic, Good costumes and simple, elegant sets

See it if you enjoy traditional Shakespeare with no frills; players, actions & motives are clear & easy to follow; beautiful costumes and sets.

Don't see it if you don't like sitting outside; you prefer the villianous Iago to be played without humor; Sappy music is unnecessary at the end of acts.

Also The second half of the play gets melodramatic and it is difficult to b... Read more Read less

Great acting, Great writing, Intense, Entertaining, Absorbing

See it if Entertaining show. Alison Wright and Heather Lind stole the show with their powerful performances.

Don't see it if It was a pretty straightforward production, with nothing new about it, and suffers by comparison to the recent NYTW show.

Entertaining, Great acting, Witty, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You enjoy Shakespeare under the stars with great acting.

Don't see it if You don’t appreciate Shakespeare’s flowery prose and long plays or prefer musicals and fluffy content.

Entertaining, Great acting, Great staging, Intelligent, Masterful

See it if You appreciate classic Shakespeare performed superbly. This production is well directed and easy to follow the trajectory of each character.

Don't see it if You don’t appreciate Shakespeare (or a beautiful summer evening in the park)

Great acting, Overrated, Slow, Thought-provoking

See it if You really love Shakespeare for the language. You love exquisite period costuming.

Don't see it if You like a lot of visual action.

I happily profess my prejudice for chuk iwuji

See it if you love Shakespeare in the Park. This is as others have said a solid Othello. I wish this had been staged at the Public.

Don't see it if You dont want to watch an anachronistic buffoonish Iago. His every entrance upset the balance. The women were clearly delineated, wellspoken

Also The critics were across the board in this. Many hated Iago, some extol... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Intelligent, Intense, Riveting, Masterful

See it if You are seeking traditional Shakespeare, well acted and well staged. Kudos to a cold, calculating, evil Iago and very believeble Desdemona.

Don't see it if A three hour drama (with potential drizzle) disturbs you.

Smart, Intense, Classic, Great acting, Great staging

See it if You like a classic interpretation of Othello.

Don't see it if You don't like Othello. The play is very much still intact and problematic.

Also I think the team did their best with the material, but there are just ... Read more Read less

Shakespeare tragedy you could follow

See it if You love to see Shakespeare in the park as the setting is so great! The women were strong and particularly Emilia shone. I enjoyed this iago

Don't see it if Was long, some costumes not distinct, othello wasn’t the strongest portrayal of military prowess

Great writing, Great staging, Entertaining

See it if A great story in a great setting in Central Park. On a beautiful night it doesn’t get any better as a unique New York theatre experience.

Don't see it if You expect your Othello to be a large commanding presence. He’s not. You like your Iago cold and evil. Corey Stoll’s a scene-stealing clown.

Also But bring your poncho because you aren’t allowed to open an umbrella i... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Clever, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

See it if you want an "Othello" stripped of any pretense that Iago hates Othello for anything but his skin color or that Othello is just an angry dude

Don't see it if you want a post-racial version of Shakespeare. Othello is a nice/loving/successful black man who doesn't have a chance in this world

Also The stated intention (in the program) was to make a love-story-gone-wr... Read more Read less

Clever, Absorbing, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Epic

See it if You enjoy traditional staging of Shakespeare’s plays, in a beautiful setting

Don't see it if You don’t have $500 or more to donate to get a “free” ticket or you don’t understand that waiting in line is itself a great theatrical exper

Cast & Creatives (26)