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Seth Gilliam plays Othello

Theater alert for Bostonians and anyone who might be visiting town through August 15: Do whatever you need to do to your summer schedule to see the spectacular (and free!) production of Othello on the Boston Common.

We are regulars and have seen most of the Commonwealth Shakespeare productions over the last 15 years. But this one is the best ever. And it isn’t just my spillover passion for anything The Wire. Seth Gilliam (who played an unforgettable Ellis Carver in the greatest TV series ever) is rivetingly pitch perfect as the Moor. (Imagine how razor sharp your first circle/third circle—in the Patsy Rodenburg theatrical sense—edge must be to explode that Othelloian emotion without going too over the top, and to do it for an audience that stretches from the stage all to way to Tremont Street.) Tight and tough, Gilliam’s Othello is not the towering Moor that is often cast in this role but his energy is blinding. Iago, played by James Waterston (yes, he’s the son), captures the banality of evil with such force my poor partner Dave spent a sleepless night after encountering that ambient but essentially meaningless ill will. And the ladies held up their end as well, Marianna Bassham as Desdemona and a best ever Emelia played by Adrianne Krstansky. The sets are simple and elegant and also work with the large crowds that a free event on a summer evening attracts.

Don’t miss it.

For more info, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company.