SOLOTHELLO

Hamilton Gardens, Te Parapara, Hamilton

14/02/2015 - 22/02/2015

The Dark Room, Cnr Pitt and Church Street, Palmerston North

11/08/2015 - 15/08/2015

Huria Marae, Wharenui, 1 Te Kaponga St, Judea, Tauranga

29/10/2015 - 29/10/2015

Te Pou Theatre, 44a Portage Road, New Lynn, Auckland

30/10/2015 - 31/10/2015

Circa Two, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

15/06/2016 - 18/06/2016

Century Theatre, Napier

13/10/2016 - 13/10/2016

Whakatu Marae, Nelson

19/10/2016 - 19/10/2016

Waitangi, National Theatre Marae, Bay of Islands

05/04/2017 - 05/04/2017

Hawkes Bay Arts Festival 2016

Nelson Arts Festival 2016

Tauranga Arts Festival 2015

UPSURGE Bay of Islands Festival 2017

Kia Mau Festival 2016

Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2015

Production Details



Watch Maori Performance Mask (Te Mata-Kokako o Rehia) come to life as Regan Taylor unfolds his abridged version of the Shakespearean play Othello as a solo performance.

A dynamic and interpretive way to experience one of history’s more tragic plays. 

Where:  Te Parapara 
When:  Sat 14 Feb & Sun 15 Feb 2015
Time:  6:30pm
When:  Sat 21 & Sun 22 Feb 2015
Time:  6:00pm 
Tickets:  Standard: $20 

OTHELLO is one of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedies. The story of racism, love, jealousy, betrayal, revenge and repentance remains relevant to contemporary audiences and has been performed regularly around the world since it was first performed in 1604. It has also been the basis for numerous operatic, film, and literary adaptations.

Watch Maori Performance Mask (Te Mata-Kokako o Rehia) come to life as Regan Taylor unfolds his version of OTHELLO as a stripped back, solo performance. Condensed and adapted from Shakespeare’s source material through the context of Te Ao Maori, SOLOTHELLO sees the passions of Iago, Othello, Desdemona and Rodrigo given voice with a blend of Shakespeare’s text, improvisation, and Te Reo Maori. A dynamic and interpretive way to experience one of history’s more tragic plays.

…it’s a risk that only a highly skilled and confident actor would take on and Taylor is both of those. Ka pai!” – Theatreview

Educated as part of UCOL’s performing arts programme, Taylor will be familiar to Palmerston North audiences through his performances at Centrepoint Theatreover the past fifteen years, most recently in Te Rēhia Theatre Company’s HOKI MAI TAMA MĀ by Tainui Tukiwaho. Established in 2012 by Regan Taylor and Amber Curreen, Te Rēhia is all about presenting innovative Maori theatre that promotes Te Ao Maori. Last year they did a Northland tour of HOKI MAI TAMA MĀ and presented a theatre-in-education show RUIA TE KAKANO to mainstream schools and kura kaupapa throughout the central North Island.

Aside from a busy theatre schedule, Taylor completed his first major film role in May as Joshua in Mahana, directed by Lee Tamahori and due for release in mid-2016. Mahana is Tamahori’s first New Zealand production since Once Were Warriors, and is based on Witi Ihimaera’s novel Bulibasha.

Taylor teams up with director Craig Geenty for the second time since they debuted DESTINATION: DEATH at The Dark Room back in 2008.

SOLOTHELLO
The Dark Room, cnr. Church and Pitt Street, Palmerston North
Dates 11 August – 15 August 2015
Times Tuesday to Thursday 12.30pm | Thursday to Saturday 6.30pm
Tickets Full $20 | Concession $15
Bookings (06) 354 5740 or www.thedarkroomnz.com 

TAURANGA ARTS FESTIVAL 2015
Thursday 29th October, 07:00pm 
Huria Marae, Wharenui, 1 Te Kaponga St, Judea
TICKETS: $25 

Auckland Development Season | Performance  Kai  Korero
Te Pou Theatre, 44A Portage Road New Lynn (Entrance off McWhirter) 
Friday 30th October 2015, 7.30pm,
Saturday 31st October 2015, 2pm and 7.30pm
Tickets only $20 at i-ticket includes kai and forum post show 
(Tickets link: https://www.iticket.co.nz/events/2015/oct/solothello

2016

Othello reimagined by a cheeky Maori and his masks

SolOthello will mark Māori actor Regan Taylor solo debut of at Circa Theatre during Matariki.  As part of the inaugural Kia Mau Festival (formerly Ahi Kaa Festival), Māori Performance Mask (Te Mata Kokako o Rēhia) will come to life for the first time in Wellington as Taylor unfolds his adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello in his solo performance SolOthello. This production is also the first time Auckland’s leading Māori theatre company Te Rēhia Theatre’s is presenting a theatrical piece in Pōneke.  

Following this short season at Circa Theatre, Taylor hopes to be able to take his unique solo piece to other countries around the globe where mask work is deeply steeped in their culture.

Funnily enough Taylor admits that he actually hated Shakespeare before working on this show.  “I now realise that every word he has written has a purpose and that he has taken the time to polish every word so they can sit and shine.  And I truly believe that being able to combine Shakespeare, masks and Te Ao Māori is a winning combination.”

Te Rēhia Theatre and Kia Mau Festival present
SolOthello
Circa Theatre
15-18 June 2016, 7:30 pm  
Circa 

Hawkes Bay Arts Festival 2016
Napier Century Theatre (MTG)
Thu Oct 13th: 7:30pm
Adult: $39 
Concession: $35 
 

Nelson Arts Festival 2016
Whakatu Marae, Nelson 
Wed 19 Oct, 7pm; arrive by 6.30pm for a Powhiri
60 mins no interval
FULL $25
SENIOR $20
UNDER 19 $15
GROUPS OF 6+ $20 pp
(Group bookings only available at Theatre Royal Nelson)
Plus TicketDirect Service Fee
Book Now!  

UPSURGE Bay of Islands Festival 2017 

… it’s a risk that only a highly skilled and confident actor would take on and Taylor is both of those. Ka pai! THEATREVIEW

So this is Art? REGAN’S AUNTIE, PARUAHARANUI MARAE, ROTORUA

Waitangi, National Theatre Marae
Wednesday 5 April, 6.30 pm
60 mins no interval
EARLY $25 – FULL $30
plus service fee
BOOK HERE  



Theatre , Solo , Mask ,


1 hr

Transfixing magic at Waitangi

Review by Alan Scott 06th Apr 2017

The sweet swan of Avon paddled up the Waitangi River and found his way to the National Treaty Marae on the second night of Upsurge, the Bay of Islands Arts Festival. There cannot be a more fitting venue for SolOthello, Shakespeare’s classic tragedy set in Te Ao Māori, than Te Whare Rūnanga, the carved meeting house at the heart of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. 

If the Bard expected to be treated with reverence he was, hopefully, happily mistaken for, in a neat historical twist, his work is eagerly and humorously colonised by writer and actor Regan Taylor who pares the play down to one hour running time and four characters, one of whom, Desdemona, never says a word.

SolOthello is Shakespeare abridged but, at the same time, it is Othello enlarged through its reenactment in another cultural milieu which adds theatrical elements of unexpected dimension and complexity.

These do not particularly transform our understanding of the play but they certainly enhance the possibilities of theatre to surprise us, to engage us and ultimately to bewitch us. Just when you think you have seen it all, there is Regan Taylor delivering up Iago, Roderigo and Desdemona by donning and switching masks made of totara, carved in an unmistakably Māori style but in some way nodding to Commedia dell’arte.

In Taylor’s hands, these masks of dead wood become unnervingly, yet entertainingly, lifelike. If you look over his shoulder, you see their magic and mystery reflected and amplified in the carved figures of the poupou of Te Whare Rūnanga; figures you suspect might at any time climb down off the walls.

While we are given the essence of the play in Iago’s machinations, Desdemona’s murder and Othello’s inevitable suicide, the dramatic and emotional highs are continually underpinned and frequently undercut by a rich comic vein which runs through the entire script. While the play is told in Shakespeare’s original language and in Te Reo Māori, much of it is translated into a modern English which is both down to earth and earthy.

This style of speaking generates significant humour and is complemented by Taylor’s asides to the audience, when he stops being the character and comments on the difficulties he is experiencing as the actor. The audience cracks up frequently throughout the performance and there are some really funny lines.

Shakespeare, the script, Te Whare Rūnanga and Te Ao Māori not withstanding, the star of this highly engaging and entertaining piece is undoubtedly Regan Taylor himself. His drive, energy, pacing, timing and deftness with the masks was something to behold. His ability to capture characters and switch effortlessly between them demonstrates a deep command of the actor’s craft. The sweat pours down his face and no wonder. He puts in a huge amount of work to retell Othello’s tale and breathe new life into it.

If there is a weakness it is in his portrayal of the character of Othello who is played without a mask. While he admirably exhibits the gravitas of Othello through his demeanour and bearing, he sometimes mumbles his lines which are often spoken too quietly to be really effective.

With a couple of props, three masks and no theatre lights to speak of, Taylor transforms the space into a world far away from our own and shows us both the holding power of Shakespeare and the ability of theatre to hold us transfixed in its hands.  

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Original, captivating and charming

Review by Daniel Allan 21st Oct 2016

In the hubbub of Pākehā life in modern Nelson, you can become quite detached from the bi-cultural roots of Aotearoa and forget that the incredible Whakatū Marae is humming away just down from the Arts Festival hub of Founders Park. To experience a pōwhiri, as well as enjoy theatre here is healing, peaceful and magical. Kia ora to the tangata whenua and the Arts Festival organisers, for this venue was the perfect setting for the marriage of Māoritanga and William Shakespeare’s Othello that is Regan Taylor’s Solothello

Taylor, disarming in plain black clothes, and without any of the pretences of an actor in any sort of pre-show ‘process’, prefaces the show with a secondary pōwhiri, which welcomes us into the imagined background for the play: an Elizabethan world in which the ‘thief’ William Shakespeare ascertained all his plots from an Italian sailor who had visited the Māori and heard all their legends.

Sitting as strangers in our own land, facing the far end of the whare, some of us choosing to sit on the ground, others on chairs, we witness a man who is experiencing ‘other-ness’ in his own way. Othello, “the Moa”, is from a different hapu. He is represented as a resonantly voiced, non-mask character. Iago and Roderigo provide the bulk of the action as a broadly played pair of half-masks and the full masked Desdemona is the silent and enigmatic innocent of their designs.

Taylor and director Craig Geenty have avoided the obvious Pākehā/ Māori schism of Iago and Othello and gone for a subtler form of alienation, concentrating their efforts instead on the machinations of Iago and theme of jealousy to condense Shakespeare’s original story down to 50 minutes.

Taylor has worked from limitations to create this piece: He wanted to speak more te reo Māori, he has three masks, and he knew it was Will’s 400th anniversary, so he went about creating a show to order. It is original, captivating and charming in its execution. The set is simply a clothesline, a sheet, and a large trunk, placing emphasis on the mask work.

The masks, carved from totara, are exquisite, and Taylor plays the multiple characters with excellent voice work and distinct physicality. Roderigo, the classic oaf with loose jaw and flapping tongue, is a crowd favourite. When things go wrong, as they are wont to do when a single actor is charged with this epic anarchy, Taylor uses disarming humour, and the rapport he has previously built with the fourth wall down, to lament the dropped sheet he can no longer hide behind, or the “budget-as beard” falling off Roderigo’s face. 

The plot points of the play rollick along, alternating between a mixture of Shakespeare, modern English, and Te Reo. Laughs come easily, but there is a distinct change in mood in the fatal conclusion where, silent as spirits, we are suddenly drawn into a touching and intense scene of a man murdering his mask.

Some of his floor patterns are a bit rough, his prop manipulation could be slicker, and I would have liked him to have made more of the conversations between Othello and Iago, rather than Roderigo and Iago, but these are minor quibbles. The stunning venue, combined with the intimate charm of a skilled performer, makes this my theatre experience of the year.  

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Shakespeare gets a Maori twist in SolOthello

Review by Ewen Coleman 18th Jun 2016

One of the more enduring qualities of Shakespeare’s plays that continue to make them popular, even after 400 years, is their portrayal of the human condition like love, hate, affection, jealousy and greed.

And this is never better demonstrated than in Othello, where the manipulative and insanely jealous Iago plots to bring down Othello because of his secret marriage to Desdemona, with the help of the gullible Roderigo.

And it is these four characters that Regan Taylor and Te Rehia Theatre Company with director Craig Geenty so brilliantly bring together to tell the Othello story in Taylor’s solo performance solOTHELLO, currently playing at Circa Theatre. [More]  

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Enjoyable and enriching

Review by Lori Leigh 16th Jun 2016

“Shakespeare is a thief,” begins SolOthello, a declamatory statement that ignites laughter on the opening night. This iteration of SolOthello, described as “Shakespeare’s classic tragedy reimagined by a cheeky Māori and his masks” is directed by Craig Geenty and presented by Te Rēhia Theatre at Circa 2 as part of the Kia Mau Festival.

This initial burst of laughter is the first of many that will erupt throughout the show. In fact, I never imagined I could laugh and smile as much during a production of Othello as I do during SolOthello; and this, in part, is the show’s magic. A complete re-imaging of Shakespeare’s play, it is an interpretation that reveals Othello’s complexity not only as a text but also as a cultural artefact wrought with a troubled performance history, indistinguishable from issues of race or ‘other’.

From the acknowledgment that all works are, in a sense, an adaptation of some sort, Regan Taylor, the solo performer, in SolOthello weaves a tale beginning with Giovanii Baptista Giraldi Cinthio’s Hecatommithi, the novel source of Shakespeare’s play, and places Othello’s roots firmly in Te Ao Māori [The Māori World]. Thus, Othello becomes a Māori story and is told with beautiful simplicity.

On stage is Taylor and carved totara masks, which he uses to play the characters of Iago, Roderigo, and Desdemona. All other characters are unseen (or ‘unscene’), which for me, further highlights the predominant forces in Othello’s fragile psyche. Othello himself, is unmasked, giving him a humanity and dignity above the other characters, as well as firmly planting him as ‘different’ or ‘other’.

In addition to Taylor and his masks, a large white sheet is used that metamorphoses from bed sheets to Desdemona’s robes to a curtain of concealment and ultimately the emblematic handkerchief: stained with blood, embroidered with strawberries. This is what I love about theatre: transformation of bodies and spaces, and SolOthello excels at these elements.

The other excellent aspect of SolOthello is Taylor’s relationship with the audience. He is a skilful metatheatrical and charismatic performer. He adeptly and seamlessly switches from character to actor and back again. My favourite moments include his addressing some latecomers, in one of the friendliest and warmest ways I think I’ve ever witnessed, asking them where they’ve come from.  He simply replies that he had come “all the way from Auckland” and managed to get to the show on time.  These meta-moments will continue throughout the show as Taylor forgets his lines (or does he?) and simply says, “Insert rhyming couplet I forgot,” or uses party poppers in a scene and comments on the state of arts-funding and low budgets.

The language is a tapestry of everyday English, Te Reo Māori, Shakespearean verse and prose. How each is used adds a further dimension to the show. The English is often used for the ‘commenting’, as evidenced above, but as well Taylor employs modern English to make anachronistic jokes (a Shakespearean technique). Michael ‘Cassio’ is good at numbers. During the brawl, in true Fresh Prince fashion, someone has “starting making trouble in my neighbourhood”.

Similarly, the Te Reo Māori offers a dimension of humour. In this adaptation, ‘The Moor’ is a transfiguration of local legend ‘Te Moa’. When Iago is inciting Brabantio with bestial imagery of the sex life of Othello and Desdemona, he throws in “Your Whakapapa will be fucked up”. There is also a level of wit that operates specifically for speakers of Te Reo, which I think is great.

Lest it’s thought SolOthello deprives Othello of its tragedy, the Te Reo Māori, along with the Shakespearean language, operates in most instances to shift the audience from the comedic to the dramatic.  There are many moments of passion, jealousy, anger and, of course, senseless deaths. Oddly, the death of Iago is not presented on stage, though he is, as in many productions of Othello, an equal – if not greater – protagonist here.

This brings me what made me uncomfortable about the show. Desdemona, as a woman, is masked and also the one speech-less character. Doesn’t she deserve the same humanity afforded Othello? The mask only operates to make her ‘other’ to the male actor in this production. In the world of the play proper, Desdemona is as much ‘other’ as Othello. It says in the programme that her language is “primarily movement” but this is highly problematic for me, especially in the context of this play.

Though I don’t prioritise words over body, I question a production that robs the one woman of the words the men have (and cuts the other woman entirely). Emilia is not in this production, save for Iago’s passing reference to his “wife’s” potential infidelity as a reason for hating the Moor – again rendering such a choice problematic. In redevelopment, I wonder if more thinking could go into the dramaturgy of Desdemona’s character. Otherwise, SolOthello leaves audience members like me feeling somewhat alienated and disappointed with its otherwise careful craftsmanship. [Interestingly, in Cinthio’s tale the characters are all flat, stock types and named as such—‘the Moor’, ‘the Ensign’, etc.—with the exception of ‘Disdemona’.]

Despite this issue, SolOthello is a very enjoyable and enriching evening at the theatre, and as it’s only on at Circa for three more nights. I highly recommend seeing it while you can.

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Raises stimulating questions

Review by Gin Mabey 30th Oct 2015

Regan Taylor begins the show with a warm and personable, “Shall I get into it then?” 

However, at first I have reservations. Taylor has a box on the floor, a sheet and 3 masks which are used pretty ‘rustically’. The show isn’t what I would call seamless or smooth, so at first I think, oh no, perhaps this is going to be a bumpy ride … Othello is a pretty heavy show as it is …  

But then the humour, charm, cheekiness, cleverly-extracted wit comes out and we all relax and start to thoroughly enjoy. I find this interesting to ponder when considering the place of comedy in a solo show and the way in which it instils a sense of trust in the audience toward the performer. This makes it all make sense.

The show isn’t designed to be water-tight and slick, it doesn’t need to be, and part of the enjoyment is watching Taylor ‘get through’ the show with all the many mask switches, flitting about, sweating and all the while conveying a giant story with many characters, into one hour, solo. He makes self-aware comments throughout, such as “…actor getting ready behind curtain…”, “…I can’t remember the next bit … you try doing this!” I like this; it brings a strange kind of realness to the show, all the while being a very specific stylistic theatrical choice (again, assumed).

Regan gives a summarized version of Othello. He takes some words directly from the script, especially when he is portraying Othello. His Othello is mask-less and strong. His Iago has a half-mask and a menacing voice that reminds my friend of an old scheming geezer dude from down the pub. His Roderigo has a half-mask, and is joyfully idiotic, fumbling around after Desdemona.

His Desdemona has a full mask, and a sheet to portray her pale skin (I assume). She does not speak, but gives her gentle wails and moans that work just as well as speech. His Desdemona is graceful and dignified, moving beautifully and serenely. I like that he has treated Desdemona this way; I think she deserves it.  

His speech switches between Te Reo, Shakespeare’s own words and his abridged version of the story.

I’m not convinced that Shakespeare’s Othello was given much new insight by this performance. I think that the play was used as a great structure and tool for this show, but it could easily have been any other play. However, the idea of ‘story’ itself is presented interestingly.

How can a story be conveyed in more languages than one? How much does an audience need to understand of language and how much can movement /voice /design assist understanding? What are the limits of the performer and what is the benefit of solo acting as opposed to pure story telling? How can comedy make difficult text more accessible?

I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I very much enjoy theatre that makes me search for the answers. Therefore, SolOthello is both a highly enjoyable show, and a very useful one as it re-opened some buried questions I have regarding theatre which I very much appreciate. 

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Bravura performance and haunting music highly rewarding

Review by Joy Green 12th Aug 2015

Adapting Shakespeare to a place and a culture Shakespeare himself could have had no concept of is, in itself, a big ask. Doing so for a single player is a whole other ballgame. But that’s what deviser Regan Taylor has sought to do with Solothello: and on the whole he and director Craig Geenty have done it really rather effectively. 

Delivered in a combination of Shakespearean language, modern dialect and Te Reo Māori, Solothello embodies four characters from Shakespeare’s text: Othello himself, Iago, Roderigo and Desdemona, with other characters invoked and engaged in conversation but not present on stage. The choices of character make sense: while Michael Cassio (who, we are memorably told, is “good with numbers”) might be traditionally perceived as a more significant character than Roderigo, he is, in effect, a target set up for Iago fire at, while Roderigo is drawn into and used to advance the manipulator’s plots.

Props are minimal; there is no set, and apart from masks, there’s only a large trunk, a sheet and a washing-line arrangement from which the sheet is occasionally hung. It’s quite sufficient and the symbolism of the sheet from the marriage bed transforming into the handkerchief that is offered as proof of Desdemona’s disloyalty is striking. 

The characters are differentiated by the 3 different masks which are in themselves beautiful works of art, carved and decorated with moko. These are used along with a shift of voice and demeanour as each mask is donned (or in the case of Othello, removed). Taylor’s physicality throughout is spot on. His Desdemona, in particular, is convincingly graceful, feminine and tender. The dignity and presence he brings to Othello, even while the great General is in decline, would surely make him a shoe-in to play the Moor in a traditional production of the play.

The characters are further evoked by musical motifs, played on tango puoro by Rob Thorne, a recently discovered collaborator on the project, but you wouldn’t know it. His music marries perfectly with the rest of the production and contributes immeasurably to creating a sense in the audience of being part of something inherently and authentically Māori. It feels like it must always have been a part of the whole.

There is a fair amount of improvisation going on as the story advances. That, and the translation of Shakespearean ideas to modern argot, is often very funny – something which makes the piece very engaging and much appreciated by today’s mostly high-school age audience. The pace is breakneck and Taylor clearly pours everything he has into the performance, to good effect.

The Q&A that follows the show indicates it is a piece that is still in development, and with that in mind, I hope Regan and Craig won’t mind my mentioning a couple of things that I think might make the play more effective still. 

Firstly, the necessity of cutting the piece for pace and a small cast of characters has meant that some of the clarity of narrative has been sacrificed. I think I would have been lost without prior familiarity with the story; perhaps a synopsis of the piece could be added to the programme, at least identifying the position of Othello in Venetian society, his relationship to Cassio and Iago, and the way the action shifts to Cyprus. This would, I think, fill in a few gaps that could otherwise leave people who don’t already know the plot puzzled.   

Secondly, the decision to silence Desdemona’s voice and have her communicate in action only makes absolute sense, and fits the concept of the production, but it does rob the audience of a key early scene where she aligns herself with Othello against her father. This declaration makes the undermining of their marriage even more painful and poignant. It would be great if somehow this scene could be evoked (either through Roderigo bewailing it or Othello celebrating it?).

Finally, although Othello’s lack of a mask, the greater fluency of his language and his authoritative stance and vocal strength do differentiate between him and the rest of the characters to an extent, the character doesn’t seem as set apart and isolated as I’d expect. More emphasis from the text to his ‘otherness’ might be worth considering, if it’s an aspect that they want to highlight.

But it’s best to take any production as a piece of theatre on its own terms and in doing that, Solothello is highly enjoyable and rewarding; a bravura performance from Taylor enhanced and underscored (do you see what I did there?) by Thorne’s haunting musical contributions. 

Read a summary of Othello then grab the opportunity to go and see this production.

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Skill and confidence brings new insights

Review by Gail Pittaway 15th Feb 2015

Te Rēhia Theatre Company has been experimenting with the use of Commedia dell’arte masks and Māori storytelling for a couple of years now and this new development, back to the Bard, makes for a fantastic piece of entertainment.

Regan Taylor performs a solo version of Othello, using only a low box, few masks and a white sheet to retell and transplant the great play of betrayal of trust into a Maori context. Taylor is a superb performer, shifting shape and voice to match each mask: the gullible Roderigo, the duplicitous Iago and the trusting, beautiful, Desdemona who is characterised only by a high humming voice and stylised, dance like movements. The white sheet hangs over a simple line, to change place and pace, or becomes the nuptial bedding, a tavern, the scene of a fight, the cursed ‘ocular proof’ of a handkerchief, the death bed for Desdemona and Othello – a smear of blood marking the transfer from wedding night to murder.

The masks themselves are exquisite taonga, each carved and shaped with painted moko. The men’s masks are very much in the Commedia del Arte fashion, with chin and tongue free to speak and move, giving Taylor maximum opportunities to have Roderigo’s droopy tongue a feature of his characterisation – something that might not be so apparent without a mask.

Desdemona’s mask is full facial and painted with simple lines and a delicate chin moko. Taylor’s eyes, too, seem to change behind each mask – flashing as Iago, dulled as Roderigo and questioning, for Desdemona. He is a skilled performer in this art and makes the old tale fresh and relevant to this time and place. 

In a short mihi at the beginning of the evening, Taylor refers to the Waikato River which flows alongside the Hamilton Gardens, barely 20 metres down the bank beyond Te Parapara Garden which is such a perfect space for this particular performance, with its ceremonial gateway (waharoa), palisade fencing and ancestral carved pou, themselves decorated with faces and masks.  He quotes the well known saying:
Waikato taniwha rau, he piko he taniwha.
Waikato of a hundred taniwha, every bend a taniwha 
and brilliantly offers this as the informing motif of this production; a metaphor for the twists of trust and distortions of belief that characterise Othello’s decline into jealous rage. It’s a breath-taking connection, and it works.

The play script is abridged and many passages and characters are left out, including my own favourite character, Emilia, while others are invisible but present, such as Brabantio, Desdemona’s father and Ludovico, the Venetian diplomat who becomes the witness for the final blood bath.

Yet the transference to a Māori context adds new insights, even new comedy into the play, as when Iago takes on several of the lines from Othello’s clown-like servant and puns on words such as ‘lie’, or introduces Michael Cassio (Casio) as being “good with numbers”: a most successful gag.

In all it’s a risk that only a highly skilled and confident actor would take on and Taylor is both of those.  Ka pai!

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