OTHELLO D: Zaib Shaikh, w/ Carlo Rota, Christine Horne and Matthew Deslippe (CBC/Morningstar, 2008). Rating: NNN
At a basic level, Shakespeare's Othello is a play about the other, the excluded member of society.
In director/producer Zaib Shaikh's recent TV adaptation, the other isn't black but Muslim; Shaikh's cast Carlo Rota, his Little Mosque On The Prairie co-star, in the title role and surrounded him with an excellent cast.
The pared-down screenplay by Shaikh and Matthew Edison is grippingly intense much of the time, with Christine Horne an emotionally open, guileless Desdemona and Matthew Deslippe's Iago a conniver brimming with venom in his monologues (addressed to the camera) and intentionally neutral when he's with others.
There's also good work by Graham Abbey as Cassio, Ryan Hollyman as Iago's gull Roderigo and Peter Donaldson as Brabantio. Jonathan Goad, an impressive Iago at Stratford a few years ago, here plays Montano, making that secondary character an unusual but vital part of the drama.
Rota, though, lacks the gravity for Othello. The character must command not only with words but also by his very presence - a quality not conveyed in Rota's performance.
The anger's there, but little of the tenderness and the corruption of innocence, and the result is a half-hearted feeling of tragedy at the end.
EXTRAS Making-of documentary, audio commentary, deleted scenes, casting auditions, photo gallery.