The Column Online



By William Shakespeare

Bare Bones Shakespeare

Bare Bones Shakespeare
Producer, Dramaturg – Julia G. Nelson
Stage Manager – Daniel Frank
Fight Choreographer – Adam Kullman
Text Coach – Stranton Rushing

Othello, 2nd Gentleman – Tremayne Traylor
Desdemona, Gratiano – Haley White
Iago, 1st Gentleman – Nick Otranto
Cassio, Duke – Henry Okigbo
Roderigo, Clown, Lodovico – Trevin McLaughlin
Bianca, Officer, Montano – Vimukta Talwar
Brabantia, Emilia, Herald – Julia G. Nelson

Reviewed Performance: 8/10/2018

Reviewed by Kathleen Morgan, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

“O beware, my lord, of jealousy: It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on.” Iago’s words from Shakespeare’s Othello perfectly capture what is stewing in the heart of Othello, the Moorish military commander who suspects, and ultimately condemns, his wife for an alleged affair. The themes of racism, jealousy, and deception in Othello are as potent today as they were when Shakespeare penned these words, making this masterpiece a timeless classic.

Bare Bones Shakespeare put on an entertaining performance, one that is all the more impressive considering that the actors were self-directed, in the style of original Shakespeare from the 17thcentury. The style of the show was, as the name suggests, “bare bones.” There is no set, no change in lighting and few props. Costume pieces such as hats and shawls mainly serve to differentiate the multiple characters each actor portrays. This minimalism highlights the talent of actors all the more.

Tremayne Traylor (Othello, 2ndGentleman) gave a performance of Othello that was full of energy and vigor. His gradual shift from a husband who goes from doting, to doubting, to downright possessed by jealousy shows Traylor’s versatility as an actor. Despite a few noticeably flubbed lines in Act I during the Duke and Senate scene, Traylor recovered quickly and executed his (nearly 300!) other lines without incident. Although anyone who plays Othello has the challenging task of delivering powerful lines through fits of rage, I would have liked to see Traylor slow down and focus on the diction more, as both my guest and I had difficulty understanding him during these impassioned scenes. Overall, Tremayne delivered a solid performance of Othello, especially for an actor so young.

Haley White (Desdemona, Gratiano) was lovely and radiant. Ever obedient to Othello, she came across pure and earnest without seeming naïve. As Othello’s disgust with her became more apparent throughout the show, you could see seeds of a lovesick distress being sown within her. White elegantly captured Desdemona’s love for Othello, from newlywed bliss to the poisoned state of their relationship.

Nick Otranto (Iago, 1stGentleman) was slippery and conniving in his portrayal of Iago. Driven by jealousy over the promotion of Cassio over himself, Iago sets out to make Othello miserable. He manipulates acquaintances and his wife alike to reach his goal. Otranto was most convincing during his interactions with the other actors, slowly exploiting their doubts whilst convincing them of his good intentions. Nevertheless, I’d be interested to see Otranto reveal a more sinister, menacing side of his character during his asides to the audience.

The most impressive performance of the night was given by Henry Okigbo (Cassio, Duke). His stage presence drew me in completely, and his baritone voice quickly commanded any scene he was in. Okigbo’s diction was impeccable, making listening to and watching him equally entertaining. I left wishing that Cassio had even more time on stage!

The actor who best differentiated his three characters was Trevin McLaughlin (Roderigo, Clown, Lodovico). Besides the obvious differences in costume pieces and props, McLaughlin’s characters each had their own subtle mannerisms, gaits, and ways of speaking. His performance was inspiring and entertaining- everything an actor’s performance should be. These ways of differentiating his characters did not go unnoticed by the rest of the audience, as one person commented on them during the after-show talkback.

I was pleasantly surprised by the performance of Vimukta Talwar (Bianca, Officer, Montano) considering that this was her first Shakespearian performance! The viewer practically feels Montano’s pain as Cassio stabs him, so convincing was Talwar’s agony during this fight scene. Talwar is also fun to watch as Bianca as she storms in, full of jealous rage, with the handkerchief given to her by Cassio, believing it to be a secondhand gift from a former lover. Finally, I would be remiss if I did not commend Talwar for pursuing her dream of acting now that her daughter is more independent, as she disclosed in the after-show talkback. Bravo, Vimukta!

Finally, Julia Nelson (Brabantia, Emilia, Herald, Producer and Dramaturg- did you catch all that?) was brilliant and riveting throughout the night. Nelson’s portrayal of Emilia was particularly powerful alongside that of Desdemona: Although both characters are at least initially obedient wives (what with Emilia delivering the dropped handkerchief to her husband Iago, simply because he requested it), Emilia emerges as an independent and courageous woman, while Desdemona remains dutiful and subservient until the end. As producer and dramaturg, she opened the show and led a lively talkback afterwards.

Overall, the company delivered an enjoyable performance in Othello: The Moor of Venice. I definitely recommend checking it out if you’ve never seen minimalist or self-directed Shakespeare before. Be sure to stick around for the after-show talk back to ask questions of the actors- if you’re lucky, you might win a T-shirt like I did!

Bare Bones Shakespeare
August 10 through August 19, 2018
The Core Theatre at 518 W Arapaho Rd, Richardson.

Fri Evening 8:00
Sat Matinee 3:00
Sat Evening 8:00
Sun Matinee 3:00

To purchase tickets, visit