REVIEWS:

Seeing the Humor in a Shakespearean Tragedy
By ANITA GATES
The New York Times
For a tragedy, “Othello” has always been pretty funny. But not every director has the courage to bring the humor front and center, as Bonnie J. Monte does in the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey’s top-notch, smoothly executed new production.

It's funny when Cassio drinks too much wine in a raucous evening with fellow soldiers. It’s funny when Roderigo is so goofily in love with Desdemona, who barely knows he's alive. Read more.

 

Othello: A classic take on Shakespeare's tale of doubt and revenge, in Madison
By Peter Filichia
The Star Ledger
For about 30 seconds, no one says a word. And while Shakespeare is, of course, known for his exquisite language, the most potent moments of this "Othello"at the Shakespeare Theater of New Jersey occur during this half-minute of silence.

It happens during the third act of Bonnie J. Monte's admirable production. For more than two hours, Ensign Iago has been carefully setting up General Othello to believe that his new young wife, Desdemona, has been cheating on him. Read more.

 

Review: Robert Cuccioli takes on Iago in Shakespeare Theatre's Othello
By C.W. Walker
The Daily Record
They don’t come much darker than this. In fact, Shakespeare scholar Harold Bloom connects Iago to Satan in Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and the comparison is apt.

Like Satan, Iago plots and schemes against a superior being, in this case, the brave and triumphant general, the Moor of Venice, Othello, who has served the Italian state honestly and well. All the Venetians speak highly of him, even as they make cracks about his “thick lips” and “barbarian” origins. There’s more than a whiff of racism here, particularly when Desdemona’s well-connected father (an indignant Bill Christ) objects to her elopement with Othello. But the impressionable Desdemona has a crush on the charismatic Moor and spurns all others. This includes Roderigo (Matt Bradford Sullivan) a feckless gentleman who will, nevertheless, be the key to the downfall of the newlyweds.
Read more.

 

Othello Returns to Shakespeare Theatre
By Bob Rendell
Talkin' Broadway
When, with his lies and fabricated "evidence," the evil ensign Iago galvanizes his general, Othello, to avenge the cuckoldry to which he believes his beloved wife Desdemona has subjected him, the Shakespeare Theatre production of the Bard's turbulent melodrama Othello careens quickly and stirringly through the play's bloody and terrible climatic events. Once seen, these scenes remain indelibly in the mind, and this production fully realizes them. Read more.

 

Talented cast provides consuming night of theater
By Bob Brown
The Princeton Packet
This play is a major commitment, both on the part of the theatre that produces it and the audiences that attend it. Bonnie J. Monte, artistic director of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey for the past 20 years, hadn’t even thought of tackling this monumental work until a few years ago. Other plays seemed closer to her personal concerns.

One cannot ignore it for long, however. In her production notes to the present offering, playing through Oct. 7, she admits her impetus was based on “never having seen a production that aroused my emotions in the way the play did when I read it. And so, I embarked on this project with a singular goal: to tell the tale in a way that would move you.” Read more.

 

'Othello' Consumes Its Characters – And Audience – With Jealousy And Deceit
By Liz Keill
The Alternative Press
Venture into the convoluted world of William Shakespeare’s “Othello,” and you’ll soon find yourself immersed in intrigue, deception and villainy.

The outstanding production at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey is directed with every shading and nuance by Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte.

Lindsay Smiling is the rugged, determined Othello, strong, but easily swayed by the cunning of his presumably trustworthy ensign, Iago. Smiling’s shift from loving husband to near madness allows us to see just how insidious his faithful Iago has become. Despite Othello’s demands for proof, he is already being consumed by rage. Read more.

 

'A CurtainUp New Jersey Review Othello
By Simon Saltzman
Curtain Up New Jersey
How many productions of Othello does one have to see and still not feel the urge to yell out to Desdemona, “You dropped your handkerchief?” It may be exasperating for me, but just think what it is going to mean to the characters in one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies. It is to the play’s credit, however, than it is almost impossible not to get caught up in the riveting drama about interracial marriage, power and jealousy. Shakespeare makes it virtually impossible to avoid becoming tenaciously involved as the duplicitous ensign Iago plots against his superior general the Moor Othello, his innocent bride Desdemona, and others as they are catapulted to their doom as the result of a lost and treacherously manipulated handkerchief. Read more.

 

Finding the sensitive side of Shakespeare's 'Othello'
By William Westhoven
Patch.com
Following a triumphant performance, the cast of one tragedy paid tribute to the victims of another Sunday night at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey in Madison.

If only both were works of fiction.

Bonnie J. Monte, artistic director of the Shakespeare Theatre, premiered her powerful production of Shakespeare’s “Othello” over the weekend on its main stage at Drew University. With Broadway and classical repertory veteran Robert Cuccioli slipping into the clammy skin of the villainous Iago, Monte’s expertly professional cast mined the dark edges of this tragic tale of love and jealousy. Read more.

 

Review: Othello at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey
By Rick Busciglio
Northern New Jersey Theater Examiner
One of the treasures of New Jersey professional theater, Bonnie J. Monte, the Artistic Director of The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, has again provided us with a magnificent night of theater magic.

In her 21st year with the company, she has directed the outstanding production of one of Shakespeare's most honored plays....Othello...Shakespeare's epic1604 tale of power, lust and jealousy. Monte has assembled a superb cast of Broadway and Shakespeare Theatre of NJ veterans led by Lindsay Smiling as the noble Moor Othello, General of the Venetian forces; Tony nominee Robert Cuccioli at his sinister, manipulative best as Iago, the Ensign with deadly ambition and jealousy; and Victoria Mack as the beautiful and innocent Desdemona.
Read more.

 

REVIEW: Othello’s Wars, Wives and Wickedness Heat Up Sixteenth-Century Venice
By Bruce Chadwick
History News Network

This production of Othello is powerful, dramatic and stunning because director Bonnie Monte starts the play off slowly, ever so slowly, and builds the tension over three taut acts until everything explodes in a sensational finale.  People in the audience slide farther and farther to the edges of their seats as Othello and Iago grow as characters and the possibility of the crazy plot’s success grows.  You are drawn into the story and feel like you are in the play, an eyewitness to a two man war and an eyewitness to Venetian history.

It is one of the best Shakespeare plays the New Jersey Theater has ever produced and a real tribute to its stature a one of the nation’s top regional theaters.
Read More

REVIEW: Othello at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey Has Super Talented Cast
By Stuart Duncan
NJ Newrsroom

Bonnie Monte, the theater’s Artistic Director (can it really be her 21st season?) directs with her amazing eye for important details and her ear for touches of comedy, and she has assembled a mostly veteran company on stage. The epic downfall of the Moor of Venice and his beautiful Desdemona at the hands of his villainous “ancient” (i.e. his personal lieutenant,) Iago, is both fascinating and heart-breaking and the principal intrigue is in these three roles. READ MORE

REVIEW: Moor moor moor- "Othello" at STNJ
By Sherri Rase
Q on Stage

STNJ has mounted a production with a spare set, subtle lighting and beautiful costumes. Bonnie Monte chose this show well and Lindsay Smiling as soldier-diplomat Othello, contrasted with Robert Cuccioli’s vigorously earthy and dyed in the wool evil Iago, are perfect together. We know all of what’s coming, but it’s like a bloody car crash–we cannot take our eyes away. Through all five acts, the hoped-for deus ex machina never comes, and we are as brutalized afterward as those who remain standing. Read More

PREVIEWS:

Finding the sensitive side of Shakespeare's 'Othello'
By Peter Filichia
The Star-Ledger
Lindsay Smiling says that while growing up in Bloomingdale, Ill., he had a hard time living up to his last name. “My grammar school classmates teased me quite a bit about it,” he says — not smiling at all. But he’s got the last laugh now — and the lead in “Othello” at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey.

Smiling won’t spend all that much time smiling onstage. Not for this role. No actor does when he plays the title role in Shakespeare’s 1604 tragedy. At the Madison playhouse under Bonnie J. Monte’s direction, Smiling will endure the lies of Iago and believe them — at the expense of his wife, Desdemona. Read more.

 

Shakespeare Theatre's 'Othello' is more about jealousy than just race
By Bill Nutt
The Daily Record
The two principal actors in the new production of “Othello,” which opens on Wednesday (Sept. 7) at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey in Madison, want to make something clear: This play is not “about” race.

That may surprise people who remember reading “Othello” in high school or college.

The title character, after all, is a Moor, a man of color, who rises to a position of military power in Venice and then shocks society by marrying Desdemona, the daughter of a senator. The antagonist is Iago, who manipulates Othello into believing that Desdemona is unfaithful, which leads to a tragic conclusion. Read more.

 

'Othello' opens at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey
By SACHI FUJIMORI
NorthJersey.com
As artistic director of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey for more than two decades, Bonnie J. Monte had tackled all of the playwright's works, save one.

"Othello," Shakespeare's tragic tale of jealousy and betrayal, considered by scholars to be his "most perfect play," did not resonate with her emotionally the way "Hamlet" and "King Lear" did. Read more.