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Taking on 'Othello' Shakespeare in Park tackles one of bard's most difficult works

The second production of Shakespeare in Delaware Park's 32nd season is set to kick off Thursday with the Bard's ultimate tale of pride, betrayal, revenge and violence.

"Othello," which stars New York City-based actor Jolie Garrett in the title role, runs through Aug. 19. It marks only the second time the free Shakespeare company has staged the play, owing to the incredibly nuanced acting chops required to fill the roles of Othello and the play's duplicitous villain, Iago.

This time around, Iago will be played by festival veteran Tim Newell, whose past Shakespeare roles have included Polonius in "Hamlet" and Ross in "Macbeth." Newell and Jolie will be joined by Rebecca Elkin (daughter of director Saul Elkin) as the innocent young Desdemona and Chris Critelli as the woefully manipulated Cassio.

Elkin's directorial approach was not an attempt to update the production with sexy modernity. On the contrary, Elkin has set the play some 1,500 years before Shakespeare's setting.

"I could have taken it into the 20th century, and Othello could have been Colin Powell, but that's not the issue in the play," Elkin said. The issue for Elkin, as for Shakespeare, is the nature of lying and how we come to blindly trust people with sinister intent.

For Jolie, who has never played the role but noted that he has been working on it for more than a decade, a chance to show Buffalo his chops is a thrilling opportunity.

"Having over 50,000 people come each summer is very exciting," Garrett said, "because to me, the fuller the house is, the better I act."




WHAT: "Othello"
WHEN: Opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday and runs through Aug. 19
WHERE: Shakespeare Hill in Delaware Park, next to Hoyt Lake and behind the Rose Garden
INFO: 856-4533 or shakespeareindelaware

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