Nepali Times
Life Times
Othello, Sen of Nepal

Shakespeare's Othello: The Moor of Venice is a tale of passion. Passion for love. Passion for victory. And poisonously passionate jealousy. Adapting Othello for a Nepali audience is no less ambitious because of our penchant for restraint, tolerance and getting by.

For his efforts, director Eelum Dixit should get several gold stars. His Othello: The Sen of Nepal opens in Rato Bangala's Kamal Mani Theatre next Friday with an incredibly young cast selected by his equally young theatre company, Nepal Shakes.

Dixit's Othello is set in Malla Nepal and Nuwakot, during Prithvi Narayan Shah's unsuccessful first attack on the latter in 1744 AD. Hailing from Palpa , Othello is an outsider in the Malla kingdom, just like Shakespeare's North African Moor was in Venice.

Othello is a military hero, and here, played by Abiral Pant, is a towering figure. But he slouches forward just a little too much, as if in expectation of impending doom, perhaps wanting to protect his Desdemona, who he loves like a raging fire.

Desdemona is the soft-spoken lover of Othello and his victim when the 'green-eyed monster' takes over. She is also the heroine standing against her father and his courtiers to defend her marriage to Othello in a society plagued by prejudice. She accompanies him to the battlefield where she meets a sad, haunting death, smothered by the man to whom she has pledged life-long loyalty and fidelity.

The master of this show, and the star of the Dixit adaptation, is Iago, played by Ashraya Dixit. "Iago is the perfect villain," says Mita Hosali, the play's producer. Iago hisses through his teeth and twirls his fingers in the air as if directing the venomous thoughts circulating in his head while plotting to destroy Othello and Desdemona.

Othello is also a victim, of Iago's manipulations and lies. He goes to Iago seeking evidence of his wife's infidelity and Iago hands him lieutenant Cassio, whose recent promotion incurs Iago's envy. But mainly, Othello is a victim of his own ill judgment and insecurities. They turn him from a valiant war hero into a murderer.

For director Dixit, who recently graduated from college, Othello is a formidable first act. His hero needs to crank up his voice and stand up straight. Desdemona can sometimes sound a bit whiny. But considering the whole cast has very little prior theatre experience, they have come a pretty long way over the last six weeks. And with a week to go, they could definitely up their game. It would be worth attending the show just to inspire Dixit to work on a second such endeavour.

Othello: The Sen of Nepal, performance by Nepal Shakes from 5-14 Feb, Kamal Mani Theatre, Patan Dhoka. Tickets available at Dokhaima Cafe (Patan), Chez Carolyn (Keshar Mahal) and Nanglo Bakery (Darbar Marg)

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)