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Othello
updated 5.21.2007

Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Shakespeare's Othello is absolutely my favorite of his plays. I had never read this enthralling drama till I took a Shakespeare class in college. Masterpiece Theatre's exceptional screen adaptation by Andrew Davies is well worth watching. Though Davies dispenses with Shakespeare's poetic language, the universal themes of racism, love, betrayal and jealousy are shockingly portrayed.

Eamonn Walker is unforgettable as John Othello, the first black Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in London. Christopher Eccleston's portrayal of the malevolent Ben Jago (Iago) is extremely unsettling. Davies presents this character with more plausible motivations than the original villain and evidence for his anger. The two principle men are shown as true friends until Othello is offered the job of Police Commissioner in place of Jago who was next in line for the job. Jago's twisted love for his friend spirals into explosive jealousy and he will stop at nothing to cause Othello pain.

There is a scene in which Ben Jago insinuates that Othello's wife, Dessie, and Police Superintendent Michael Cass, have been intimate. While the manipulation is occurring, Jago presents Othello with a slice of cake and a drink. Thus, as in Shakespeare's play, the poisoning of Othello's mind is subtly masked by sweet words spoken by the villain. The cake is a metaphorical representation of this fact. Talk about communing with Satan! All of the performers are exceptional.

My only complaint is that the character of Emilia, called Lulu here, is reduced to a shallow individual. Shakespeare uses this character as a commentator on feminist rights, and she is my favorite within the play. Davies could have given this character a little more substance. However, this complaint by no means demeans Davies' adaptation, which is exceptional. Please give this film a chance! Shakespeare's themes are expounded upon in a dark, thought provoking and unique way, which must not be missed.

Meredith Burton
Nashville, TN




Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Last week I saw Masterpiece Theatre's Othello and was stunned at its intensity and attention to psychological detail. I thought that I had seen every variation on this play that could be staged. I was wrong. Your production actually improved upon Shakespeare. I have watched MPT for decades and am accustomed to the fine, consistent quality of the productions. I am extremely pleased that that quality was not lost with the Exxon and Mobil merger.

Othello, as set in the Metro Police Station of modern London, held my attention for the full two hours as it combined honor, passion, and betrayal with madness brought on by unchecked trust. I think it should be used as a teaching tool for young second-level corporate executives. Why? Because it makes the point that as much as things change, they remain the same -- for everyone; that there are often career opportunities that should be refused, not because one cannot perform the task, but because the task extracts too much of the personal honor and integrity of the person; that evil has not been erased from the world. Often it sits in the corner office right next door.

Thank you very much for continued high quality programming.

Celestine Woodward
Alexandria, VA




Dear Masterpiece Theatre,
Absolutely marvelous. I do so hope to see more of Shakespeare being adapted with modern language, dress and time. I so thoroughly enjoyed Othello that I've watched it many times and would like to share it with others. Thanks.

Anne Godden-Segard
Chicago, IL



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