This audio book dramatizes the second in Shakespeare’s great tragedies, Macbeth, Hamlet and King Lear being the other three.
Summary: It’s a story of love, treachery and jealousy, with an element of racism, set in Venice and written c.1603/1604.
The Main Characters.
Othello, a general in the Venetian army, is read by Hugh Quarshie (of Star Wars fame). He is an associate of the Royal Shakespeare Company and has made many appearances in film and TV productions. At the time of writing he is starring as Ric in the TV hospital drama Holby City.
Othello, also known as the Moor of Venice, is the central character of the play. Although a native of North Africa, he has managed to gain the respect of the Venetians and eventually became the General of the Army. His secret marriage to Desdemona causes much jealousy among other suitors. Othello is easily swayed by Iago to believe that Desdemona has been unfaithful to him.
The scheming Iago, a soldier in the Venetian army, is read by Anton Lesser, a well known stage actor who is also an associate of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He has appeared in many stage productions, films and TV plays. He is a well known narrator of audio books and has won awards for his story telling skills, especially Charles Dickens novels.
Iago is an experienced young soldier serving under Othello. He is angry with Othello for not promoting him and he is also suspicious that Othello may have slept with his wife, Emilia. As the play progresses, Iago becomes very devious and stirs up hatred among many of the other characters in the play.
The unfortunate Desdemona is played by Emma Fielding, an award winning British actress. She has starred in many radio plays, films and TV productions, the most recent being Cranford, a BBC TV mini series. She is also a talented audio book narrator and has participated in the following productions: Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, and Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw.
Desdemona’s secret marriage to Othello becomes the subject of a Senate debate thanks to Iago’s interference. Desdemona is quite capable of defending her reputation and also deals very well with her husband’s blind jealousy which was perpetrated by lies spawned by Iago.
Othello has been made into a film on several occasions, the most notable being the earliest version in 1952 starring Orson Welles and in 1965 the legendary Sir Laurence Olivier starred. In the absence of the film versions, this audio book is a wonderful way to enjoy the great bard at his best. Listening on an MP3 player on the school bus could be the ideal way to learn those quaint lines.