10 MARCH 1950, Page 13

"Othello." By William Shakespeare. Performed by the O.U.D.S. (Playhouse, Oxford.)

THE chief interest in this uneven production lies in Mr. Guy Brenton's Iago. Mr. Brenton gives a very good and (for an under- graduate actor) a singularly unhistrionic performance ; his timing is good, he knows how to move and he has considerable assurance. He is content to state rather than to explain the character, and since lago is inexplicable anyhow, this works very well. The general impression he gives us is a shade too cat-like. I always suspect that the actor whom Shakespeare had in mind when he wrote the part must have excelled in suggesting that rugged, open, homespun quality which earned for Iago the epithet" honest" from practically everyone except his wife.

It is a dog-like quality, and Mr. Brenton—though he avoids the common mistake of making Iago too obvious a villain—cannot command it. His ancient is clearly an effective officer, a useful chap to have on your side. But honest ? Not even Mr. John Godwin's Othello, who seemed an unusually silly type of blackamoor, would have formed that opinion of him. Othello's profession is second only in dramatic importance to his pigmentation, but Mr. Godwin does not for a moment suggest that the Moor was a successful commander. We are shown instead a large, amiable babu with a capacity for self-pity, who might have risen to be station-master at Chittagong, but not to command the Venetian forces in war. Mr. Robert Robinson's Cassio is rather good, Mr. Peter Dews made something of Brabantio and Mr. Homer Nicholson had amusing, moments as Roderigo. But the whole production, which was directed by Mr. Alan Cooke, fell a- little below the usual O.U.D.S. standard.