25th May 2001 at 01:00
OTHELLO. Full cast with Hugh Quarshie as Othello

HENRY V. Full cast with Samuel West as Henry V

New Cambridge Shakespeare text. Cassette pound;9.99 each. CD pound;13.99 each. Naxos Tel: 01737 760020

Othello here is thoroughly credible: a straight fighting man whose slight accent reminds us that he is a Moor, an outsider and easy prey to Iago. After we hear Roderigo's speedy descent from innocent, decent young man to raging drunkard under Iago's skilful management, we can believe in Othello's subsequent entrapment.

The production of Henry V fully exploits the layer of the King's persona: the rousing rhetoric of "Once more unto the breach" is impressive here; but just as moving are Henry's doubts. It also exploits the play's immense variety: the touch of farce in the Boy's translations of the French soldier's pleas for mercy; birds chirruping sweetly as Katharine mispronounces English; the lyrical reporting of Falstaff's death. These actors do not speak their lines, but speak realistically, giving these productions naturalism and dramatic power and making them particularly attractive and helpful to GCSE and ASA2 students.

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