Driven by a compelling lust for evil, revenge

Driven by a compelling lust for evil, revenge

Iago knows what he exactly wants and how to get it after he was passed over for the promotion of lieutenant. His brilliance and cruelty has been proved time and again in William Shakespeare’s classic tale Othello.

Portraying facets of Iago’s personality, second year students of National School of Drama (NSD) under the direction of Mohan Maharishi staged the Bard’s classic tragedy Othello over the weekend.


The action begins on a street in Venice, in the midst of an argument between Roderigo (played by Thiruanavakkarasu), a rich man, and Iago (played by Gandharv Deewan). Roderigo has been paying Iago to help him in his pursuit of Desdemona. But Roderigo has just learned that Desdemona has married Othello, a general whom Iago begrudgingly serves as an ensign. Iago has his own reasons to hate Othello, who recently passed him over for the position of lieutenant in favour of the inexperienced soldier Michael Cassio.


Though Othello is the hero of this tragedy, the action of the play revolves around Iago. His brilliance lies in his ability to twist words which makes him responsible for all the action in the play. He ensnares Othello in his plot of destruction and manipulates everyone around him, knowing fully well how things will end. He brilliantly plans the death of five innocent people -- Desdemona, Cassio, Roderigo, Othello and his own wife Emilia.

Othello, as an outcast, is extremely insecure. He fears that he is unworthy of Desdemona and is predisposed to believe that she would be unfaithful to him and likes Cassio. Iago uses this knowledge and subtly works on Othello’s vulnerability and fears. Othello becomes deranged under Iago’s influence. He has been so thoroughly convinced by Iago that Desdemona is false that he is completely blind to the evidence to the contrary.


He sinks further and further into Iago and Othello’s speech becomes very much like Iago’s. He uses compelling words and suggests sadistic ways of killing his wife. When Desdemona pleads for her life, he does not listen to her dying wish and is least remorseful. He does not realise the full implications of his actions until Emilia accuses Iago of treachery and by then, it is far too late. Ironically, his character returns to
its original state at the beginning of the novel just as he is about to die.

The play engages the audience with the unravelling of Othello, Desdemona and Iago’s life. Surprisingly, when the first part of the play got over, the audience, so much involved and captivated by the performance of the actors, didn’t realise the 10 minutes interval.

A reason could be the confined space kept for staging the play. Also, there were not many props on the stage except a few colourful square blocks used intelligently in every act to depict the conspiracies going on in Iago’s mind.

These theatrical tricks beautifully highlighted the intensity of the actors and kept the audience connected.


Interestingly, the originality of Shakespeare’s classic tale was maintained despite the director showing his inclination towards the Urdu dialect. Somehow, Urdu added more meaning to the act maintaining the spirit of the story. As expected, the auditorium
resounded with applause after every act.

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