BWW Review: OTHELLO at Shakespeare Royal Oak Is A Powerful Production Of A Shakespearean Classic!

BWW Review: OTHELLO at Shakespeare Royal Oak Is A Powerful Production Of A Shakespearean Classic!
Photo Credit: Don Schulte Photography

Nothing says Pure Michigan quite like an outdoor summer theatre festival in August. Othello, presented by Shakespeare Royal Oak and Water Works Theatre Company, runs through August 4th at Star Jaycee Park in Royal Oak. Othello lives for love, passion and pride, but is manipulated by jealousy and revenge. This Shakespeare classic sheds light on the level of trust involved in friendships, as well as how far some will go to claim power. Othello takes us deep into the mind of a powerful man boldly facing the deepest fear of his life.

I felt that this production of Othello was truly an incredible adaptation of a script that was originally written in 1603. Anybody that has ever performed, read, or seen a Shakespeare piece performed knows that Shakespearean dialogue can be very tough to grasp and understand. The actors in this production of Othello did an incredible job of getting past that and delivering the dialogue fluently and meaningfully. Having no prior knowledge of the script or story before seeing this production, I was pleasantly surprised with the way the company was able to get the story across to the audience very easily.

Will Bryson delivers an incredibly powerful performance in the lead role of Othello. He delivers each of his lines with great diction and sureness. It is clear very early on in the show the amount of dedication and preparation that Bryson put into this role. A difficult role to portray correctly, Bryson makes it look easy. Othello is a very proud man who loves his dear Desdemona. He is very noble and a strong leader, however when his jealousy gets the best of him, he does a nearly complete change in character. He is filled with rage and will stop at nothing to get his revenge. This change in character persona happens in the second act of the play, and I applaud Bryson at his unique ability to shift and adjust his persona so easily. Will Bryson as Othello was the notable standout in the show.

I was very impressed by Jonathan Davidson's performance as Iago, the antagonist in the play. As any good antagonist does, Iago uses his influence to sway judgement amongst both his closest friends and his enemies. Iago will stop at nothing to get ahead, and from the minute he steps on stage he is a negative influencer. Davidson takes a very challenging role in this show and makes it his own. His mannerisms and facial expressions during the performance consistently make him standout as the aggressor and antagonist. He delivers his lines with a certain trueness that makes him very relatable. This was my first-time seeing Jonathan Davidson perform, and I know it won't be my last. Davidson has a special stage presence, and makes a challenging role seem very easy.

I would recommend Othello to any fan of Shakespeare, or anybody who would like to enjoy a new adaptation of this classic in a beautiful outdoor setting. I look forward to returning for next year's Shakespeare Royal Oak festival.

The rest of the cast of Othello includes Catherine Coffey (Desdemona), Connie Cowper (Duchess), Annie Dilworth (Lodovico), Sarah Hawkins (Emilia), Dante Jones (Roderigo), Artun Kircali (Cassio), Chris Martin (Gratiano), Allison Megoret (Bianca), Sean Paraventi (Brabantio), and Matthew Van Meter (Montano).

Tickets for Othello are on sale at or Shakespeare Royal Oak tickets are sold as General Admission by performance date, but festival rain policy allows guests to use their purchased ticket for any performance of that same play. Follow Shakespeare Royal Oak on Facebook at, on Twitter @WWTheatreCo, and on Instagram at @shakespeareroyaloak.

*Show information courtesy of Shakespeare Royal Oak.

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From This Author Brian Stanczak-Tuscany