Guildford Shakespeare Company’s 2014 programme kicks off in February with Othello – Shakespeare’s tale of betrayal, jealousy and suspicion.
For its 20th production the company returns to Holy Trinity Church, the venue for last year’s critically acclaimed production of Macbeth.
An experienced cast has been brought together including, in the title role, David Carr who was understudy to Adrian Lester in the much lauded production last year by the National Theatre’s.
Chris Porter, as Iago, and James Chalmers, as the governor of Cyprus, will be familiar supporters of previous productions by the company while the ensemble is completed by trainee actors from Guildford’s Performance Preparation Academy.
Amongst a 27-strong cast is Rosalind Blessed, playing Emilia, who said: “I live in Woking and spent a lot of time in Guildford, and it’s a part I’ve always wanted to play so it’s a double whammy.
“I suppose she’s a woman who speaks up for wronged wives so it’s very appealing to a modern woman. We feel we’ve invented everything when actually forward thinking thoughts have been there for a long time.
“She’s flawed, as we all are but also very brave and stands up for others.”
The actor, who is the daughter of Brian Blessed, admitted that she has not seen a production of Othello before, but said that allows her to go in fresh, without former performances on her mind.
The production at Holy Trinity will be different to any the audience has seen before, with stage designs which immerse the audience in the story – which will be set against the backdrop of the 1950s.
“It’s a Cold War setting so there is the tension where war could break out at any time,” said Rosalind. “There’s a suppressed violence. You are always a step away from animal violence and other things keep us civilised. It’s a fine line.”
The setting is perfect for the paranoia of the play which she said rings true in the era.
“I did a production of Titus Andronicus set in the 1980s recently, it was very bleak and worked very well for the violence of the play,” she said.
“Some things do lend themselves to modern adaptations and with Shakespeare it’s universal and themes are as relevant as they ever were.”
Othello opens at Holy Trinity Church on February 5 and runs until February 22. Tickets range from £12 to £21 with group discounts available, (family and group discounts available). Tickets can be purchased from the Box Office 01483 304384 or online at www.guildford-shakespeare-company.co.uk .