The storm clouds swirling above the open roof of the Pop-up Globe seemed to hold a mirror to the wild passions unleashed in an intensely emotional staging of Othello.

The play's volatile combination of love, jealousy and betrayal brings us face-to-face with the extremes of human behaviour and the production has taken to heart the "nothing extenuate" recommendation that Othello offers to those who re-tell his tragic story.

There is certainly no holding back as British director Ben Naylor presents a vigorously physical, blood-soaked interpretation of a play which has acts of appalling cruelty mingling with exquisite poetry.

The staging and design emphasise the military ethos that defines Othello's world. As his soldiers celebrate the drowning of their Turkish enemies, we see how a culture of boasting, drunkenness and brawling is implicated in the brutality that brings the story to its grim conclusion.


Te Kohe Tuhaka as Othello convincingly embodies the authority of a renowned general and, in his treatment of Desdemona, we get an unsettling reminder of the callous violence that was so powerfully evoked in Once Were Warriors.

Haakon Smestad presents a nuanced study of Iago's evil which suggests it is the ability to form an empathetic bond with his colleagues that makes Iago so effective as a manipulator of people's emotions. Jasmine Blackborow's Desdemona is plucky while expressing a heart-rending sense of her vulnerability in the face of unreasoned passions.

The presence of Roimata Fox, as Desdemona's maidservant, in the blood-drenched finale builds a powerful image of a woman speaking truth to power.