In many ways, the undoing is the easy part.

It's what comes before that determines whether a production of Othello will tug at the heartstrings rather than simply showcase actors doing their best "losing the plot".

Gordon Barr's latest production for Bard In The Botanics falls decisively into the first category, thanks in large part to great performances from Matthew Wade in the title role and Nicole Cooper as his Desdemona. Before the green-eyed monster is conjured up to trample all over their love, the pair are a delight to watch. Their playful delivery of Shakespeare's words is accompanied by subtle winks and nose-wrinkles conveying a besotted couple completely in tune with each other – but, crucially, without calling into doubt Othello's capabilities as a focused and respected army general.

Of course, Iago soon snuffs out this romance: Kirk Bage's eyes flash amber in the light of Giggy Argo's set and his jaw is permanently clenched with indignation as he puts his plans into action, and there are a few gloomy chuckles as his duplicity becomes more and more outrageous. As his military rival Cassio, James Ronan is certainly convincing as a man "that never set a squadron in the field" and around whom other men's wives would feel at ease, while Jennifer Dick also lends strong support as the villain's brow-beaten wife.

A misjudged slap and an unfortunately timed plane flying overhead were the only blips in Friday evening's performance of an otherwise compelling, well-paced production, in which Desdemona's heartbroken panic is followed up with the sucker-punch of Othello's penny-dropping howl: "I have no wife".

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