*A new director of Othello has a blog on the RSC website. On it he writes about the problems posed by the notoriously* difficult and complex Act 5, Scene 2. Compose an extract from the director’s blog.
Focusing on the short discourse between Othello and Desdemona just before her death, Othello’s anger and barbarism at the start of Act V are enough to make the audience forget his kindness of spirit or love for Desdemona and instead see before them a twisted and insane man murdering his wife.
What I need to bring to attention is the actions of a poisoned mind, the mind of a noble hero in deep turmoil. Othello intensely loves Desdemona and this needs to be portrayed in his actions and facial expressions throughout, little fleeting thoughts or grievances brought out through pained or regretful facial expressions.
As he wrestles her onto the bed, his whole body should seem to be working against him, willing him to slow down, to stop. As he smothers her, I don’t want the audience to exactly sympathise with him but to understand the complexities of the situation, and not necessarily take what he is doing at face value. He isn’t a cold blooded murderer, and although his actions suggest otherwise, it is obvious he doesn’t have the same brutal and unemotional mind as Iago. I want the audience to see determination in his strength, but he needs to face away from the bed, to the floor or the walls or anywhere except Desdemona.
He needs to stare pointedly out towards the audience so they see the look on his face, a mixture of pain and sorrow conflicting with anger and determination. Desdemona needs to put up a struggle, as she isn’t the type of woman who would submit to her husband and give up, even when she knew what the outcome would be. She needs flare in her voice when saying many of her lines and Othello needs to show signals of his true love for her, by doing things like allowing his hand to gently hold hers for a second longer before he tugs her down.