Closed 2h 50m
Othello (The Public Theater)
Upper W Side
80

Othello (The Public Theater) NYC Reviews and Tickets

80%
(123 Reviews)
Positive
90%
Mixed
7%
Negative
3%
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.'

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Member Reviews (123)

65
Handsome (costumes, set), Disappointing, Long, Odd iago

See it if you like traditional WS. Solid staging. But Stoll's Iago baffled; he was nebbishy, nasal-y, jocular. He should terrify, not amuse. Free tix

Don't see it if you want emotional engagement; strangely unaffecting. Emilia is more memorable than Dez. Iwuji is good, but overdoes. I got wet in the rain

75
Slow, Resonant, Intelligent, Well staged & acted, Competent

See it if Well appointed rendering of major Shakespearean tragedy but lacks needed ominous quality Acting adequate not potent except Wright's Emilia

Don't see it if Expertly handled but rather unispired staging by Santiago-Hudson Should be supercharged but is merely threatening Neither lead reaches peak

Critic Reviews (30)

June 18th, 2018

"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."
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June 18th, 2018

"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."
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June 18th, 2018

"Stoll's rollicking portrayal of the villainous Iago in Shakespeare's classic takes some getting used to...His undeniably entertaining performance is the most unorthodox aspect of Ruben Santiago-Hudson's otherwise slavishly traditional staging...The approach feels refreshing...Unfortunately, that lack of daringness also results in the evening feeling stodgy and dull...the production lacks the passion and urgency necessary to make us care about the tragic fates of its principal figures."
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June 18th, 2018

"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."
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June 18th, 2018

“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.”
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June 18th, 2018

"The primary tone of the accessibly middle-of-the-road revival directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson is beige. Not just because that’s the hue of the arch-filled set, plus some gilded costumes. But because the stakes in this Shakes don’t feel particularly high. Even when people start dropping like flies...The production seldom grabs...Stoll brings a contemporary glibness that leaches gravity...The show’s MVP is Alison Wright as Iago’s wife Emilia...She helps end things on a high."
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June 18th, 2018

"The first half of the three-hour production runs smoothly, with fine performances from Corey Stoll as an expressive and jovial Iago and Chukwudi Iwuji as an unfazed, unusually young Othello. Alison Wright also stands out as Iago’s outspoken wife Emilia. But following intermission, as Iago’s scheme to destroy Othello rushes to its bitter end, the production loses its drive and dramatic tension, and the famous final scene is especially ineffective."
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June 18th, 2018

“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.”
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June 19th, 2018

“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.”
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June 19th, 2018

“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.”
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June 18th, 2018

"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."
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June 18th, 2018

“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.”
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June 18th, 2018

“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.”
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June 20th, 2018

"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."
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June 18th, 2018

“Santiago-Hudson chose to downplay the play’s racist angle, and in the process not only missed an opportunity, but blunted the edges of this devastatingly intense play...Lost in the disappointment is a production that was largely outstanding...This could have been an 'Othello' for the ages. Instead, it’s a visually appealing play that, while overlong at nearly three hours, drags in parts and alienates audiences not intimately familiar with Shakespeare’s language and style."
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June 18th, 2018

"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."
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June 19th, 2018

"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.”
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June 18th, 2018

"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."
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June 18th, 2018

"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."
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June 18th, 2018

"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."
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June 18th, 2018

“The theme of racism has been for the most part been erased, and thus in a sense a pivotal part of the plot...The time frame from marriage to death is no more than 48 hours...Rather odd that Iago was able to pull off this scheme in such short time. Othello’s self-destructive behavior had to be as bad as Iago’s. Different men, but two spectrums of jealous insecurities. This production points out those flaws...The show is beautiful to look at...Shakespeare lives on under the stars.”
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June 19th, 2018

“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.”
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June 23rd, 2018

"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."
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June 18th, 2018

“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."
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June 18th, 2018

"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."
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June 23rd, 2018

"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."
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June 18th, 2018

"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."
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June 19th, 2018

“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.”
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June 18th, 2018

“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.”
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June 22nd, 2018

“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.”
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