Traquair House, Innerleithen, until Sat 13 Jun
You know summer’s finally arrived when the nation’s brave outdoor theatre companies take to the al fresco stage for that all-too-brief window of long days and (hopefully) fine weather.
Borders company Shakespeare at Traquair couldn’t have a more dramatic natural backdrop to their work in the sprawling gardens and grounds of Traquair House, Scotland’s oldest inhabited castle. Tom Hudson’s production of Othello makes intelligent use of the varying levels, colours, light and spaces offered by this natural setting, swiftly manoeuvring the audience from place to place as the action moves from Venice to Cypress and the jealous ring-master Iago’s dastardly plot to hoodwink his rival Othello and discredit Desdemona plunges towards its corpse-strewn finale.
The abridged text lends a brisk pace to proceedings, and if the energy flags a little at times, the performances are generally strong. Fine support comes in the form of Rosemary Donald as Brabantia (Desdemona gaining a spirited mother while losing the father of the original text) and Donna Vaderberghen as Bianca, Cassio’s mistress. Leah Moorehouse as Emilia, Kirsty Nicholson as Desdemona and Steve Russell as the hapless Moor all come into their own in the play’s final moving scenes. But it’s Scott Noble who takes the acting laurels as the duplicitous, manipulative Iago, dominating the scenes in which he is present and casting a watchful eye over proceedings from the shadows as his low plot takes effect.