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Theater review: 'Othello' at the Lex Theatre

July 21, 2011 | 12:00 pm

Othello (Victor Dickerson) and Desdemona (Abbie Cobb) in a loving momentA troubled veteran brutally murders his wife: “Othello” could be torn from today’s headlines, and director Tiger Reel’s emphatic modern adaptation, now at the Lex Theatre, sets the tragedy within the ranks of the U.S. military. General Othello (Victor Dickerson) and his ensign, Iago (Jim Hanna), return from a covert mission for some R&R with wives Desdemona (Abbie Cobb) and Emilia (Lacy Altwine). But resentful of losing a promotion to the square-jawed Cassio (David Lombard), Iago launches Operation Handkerchief and chaos soon comes again.

On Reel’s admirably spare set, video screens surround a trapezoid platform that doubles for a Gitmo-style interrogation cell and the general’s bedroom. Footage of surveillance and remote targeting flash behind the actors, which can be distracting during the less skillfully played scenes. Shakespeare knew wetware was the deadliest weapon, and it’s the dance between Cobb’s barely legal Desdemona and Dickerson’s passionate Moor that proves most explosive.  

Occasionally the high-tech multimedia staging here by Action! Theatre Co. and the Production Company adds to the experience of the play: there’s a particularly evocative image of black ink unfurling through water as Iago poisons his general’s heart. But video can’t save sections of this production that don’t feel as intimate — or clear — as they should. The soul of the show lives inside Dickerson’s Othello, a man so besotted with his beautiful young wife, he can’t quite believe she could really choose him over GI Cassio. It’s a war between love and self-loathing that even a warrior cannot win. 

-- Charlotte Stoudt

“Othello,” the Lex Theatre, 6760 Lexington Ave., Los Angeles. 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. Ends Aug. 20. $25. (800) 838-3006, or Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes. 

Photo: Victor Dickerson and Abbie Cobb. Credit: Brian Helm.