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Boston's Little Theater, the Tributary, has opened its annual Shakespearean Festival with a presentation of "Othello" that is regrettably poor by all critical standards. To cast such an obviously aged man as Edward Finnegan in the role of the powerful and Jealous Moor is the grossest error in the production and one that grows increasingly ludicrous, despite the determined effort of both the friendly audience and Mr. Finnegan to rise above his handicap.
The play cannot succeed without a good Othello, but a better interpretation of Iago than that of Fred Graves might have redeemed the evening's procedings. Mr. Graves is an actor of some polish and a good deal of aplomb, but his Iago is a shallow study of the dissimulating Venetian. It was obvious from the faint smile on his face throughout the play that Mr. Graves was enjoying himself, in his characterization of Iago as a pret-ty clever bird. It seemed as if he were trying to justify Iago, a natural and usually unfortunate thing for an actor to do, by making him something of a jaunty rake and something more of a sophisticate. His Iago was decidedly not one of unalloyed evil and superior intellect. The other actors gave the impression of being just a little self-conscious on the stage, and they read the poetry as if it had been written by Bill Cunningham.
The Tributary does deserve praise for its efforts throughout the past season and for its selections for the current Festival. The old maxim that it is always better to see any play than merely to read it can be examined during the next two weeks when the "Trib" will offer such seldom-seen plays as "Troilus and Cressida" and "Measure for Measure." This production of "Othello" will be prosecuted again this Saturday night and also next Wednesday.
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