Sydney Festival. Othello c’est qui.

This production at the carriageworks is very different to anything I’ve seen before, which seems to be the theme for the things I’ve seen at this year’s Sydney festival so far.
The stage is completely bare, only two actors on it, but they kept me hooked and interested for the whole 70 minutes. It starts with an African actor Franck Edmond Yau talking about when he first heard about Othello. He speaks in French and a German actress Cornelia Dörr on stage next to him translates. At first he is retelling his story to the audience. She then gives her take on being an actress and how the emphasis of modern theatre is now about the experiences of the actors themselves, people want to see more than just the character they play, which is what it feel like we are being privileged to see-an insight into the actors themselves. After this we get to see them interact with each other. It seems very natural, like they are just chatting, and it falls into a conversation about cultural differences. There are some very funny moments and incredible dance moves alongside some moments that make you think more deeply and perhaps reassess stereotypes.
I felt a bit uncomfortable that everything that the black actor said had to be translated so we were forced to hear his views second hand, sometimes with a hint of disbelief or the white woman’s opinions implied on top. It took some power away from him, which I think was the intention (in contrast to the powerful role of Othello). Although I guess if you understood French you hear his words twice which may have the opposite effect.
I would totally recommend this show, and the venue which always has a heap of interesting things going on.

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