“Total f**king insanity!” It was with these three words that I embraced director Josh T. Ryan last night following his production of Othello at Zombie Joe’s Underground. The hour-long adaption (and the word “adaption” is one you really should bear in mind before seeing this show) by Ryan and the legendary Zombie Joe himself displays the kind of majestic anarchy and unrivaled theatrical madness that sets it apart from the regular diet of staid retellings usually on offer. The production is witty, engaging, and constantly on the move: Iambic pentameter by the scruff of the neck, Shakespeare by the horns, everything ravaged by a cracking pace of delivery and devilry.
The course is steered by a truly ensemble cast. Vincent Cusimano’s fearless Iago is very, very funny complete with full-throttle theatricality and naked flesh. Vanessa Cate’s Othello is brooding and paranoid, and the entirely invented role of the Photographer, played by Sebastian Muñoz is as wicked as it is depraved. The rest of the cast including Kirsten Benjamin as Desdemona, Anna Gion as Emilia, Quinn Knox as Cassio, Hedy Beinert as Bianca, Tyler Koster as Montano, Hannah Mosqueda as Roderigo, and R. Benjamin Warren as Fineas all sparkle in their own unique way and make a sensuous dance of this adaptation.
The high-octane humour is tempered by moments of genuine poignancy…but lest the production take itself too serious it’s not long before the Moor of Venice is breaking into song. I want to repeat again my first impression: Total F**king Insanity! Go and see this show. It is Othello as you have never seen him before, diva of the fashion industry, Iago the prince of the catwalk accompanied by rock ballads, Lycra, Glam Rock and New Romantics styling.
Running until June 27. Check out ZJU website for more details: www.zombiejoes.com