EXPECTATIONS were high, but Daniel Evans’ presentation of Othello rose to the occasion.
Many packed into Sheffield’s Crucible would have been drawn in by Dominic West and Clarke Peters – two stars of HBO’s cult series The Wire.
And the pair delivered gripping performances from start to finish.
West, the dastardly Iago, is at his very best as a rogue.
The Sheffield-born actor’s common-as-muck Yorkshire accent, crafty looks and sarcastic quips helped him to steal scene after scene.
He dominated acts one, two and three of Shakespeare’s tragedy.
As despicable as Iago’s treachery is, the audience were swept along with West’s cocksure swagger.
At times we felt like co-conspirators in his plot to bring about the downfall of the honourable Othello.
Peters, playing Othello, took a back seat initially, while West spun his character’s intricate web of deceit.
But in the final two acts, the general came to the fore.
His descent into near lunacy, driven to despair by the seeds of jealousy sown into his thoughts by Iago, was utterly compelling.
Othello’s love for bride Desdemona, played by the delicate Lily James, and subsequent agony as that love unravels were portrayed with incredible passion by Peters.
James provided a highlight with the haunting ‘Willow Song’, and her desperation in the final scenes before her murder by crazed Othello was every bit as sad.
Iago’s sins are eventually laid bare and the play reaches a brilliant, twisted crescendo.