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Othello Reviews - September, 2011

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NY Times - Seeing the Humor in a Shakespearean Tragedy

Robert Cuccioli is such a strong, complex Iago that Lindsay Smiling’s Othello seems almost like a minor character until his temper erupts in Act III.      Mr. Cuccioli, who is best known for his Broadway roles as Javert in “Les Misérables” and as the title characters in “Jekyll & Hyde,” for which he won a Drama Desk Award and a Tony Award nomination, is in his ninth season with the Shakespeare Theater.        I never had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Cuccioli’s Salieri or his Macbeth, but I cannot imagine his having been in finer form than he is here. The audience is seduced by Iago’s easy confidence and considerable charm. When he observes, “I never found a man who knew how to love himself” as he does, his brand of self-esteem seems almost contemporary.

Talkin' Broadway

Robert Cuccioli's forceful portrayal of a bitter and hate-filled "passed over" soldier who has no moral compunction to using any means necessary to destroy his general is true to the role and the overwrought melodrama which encompasses it.

George Mason University - History News Network

Iago is one of Shakespeare’s deepest and most utterly contemptible characters. He begins his deception with simple steps, never expecting one to lead to another and for each step to become more despicable. Robert Cuccioli is a wonder as Iago. He has dozens of physical movements, ranging from wringing his hands to shoulder shrugs and vocal sneers, that make him a very believable villain. He will ruin anyone to get ahead in Venice and at some point he loses his humanity and just becomes a scheming machine, using anybody and anything to wreck Othello and Desdemona. His disposition gets wilder and wilder as the play unfolds and he and Othello engage in their emotional duels.

 

 

New Jersey Footlights

Robert Cuccioli's Iago is pure evil. How he so skillfully poisons Othello's mind and persuades him to kill the one thing he loves is the center point of this masterpiece.

CentralJersey.com 

Preparing her cast for the production, Ms. Monte boiled it down to a tale “about the downside of trust,” with Iago (brilliantly played by Robert Cuccioli) exploiting the naiveté or shallowness of those around him.........Mr. Cuccioli is especially good at presenting a smooth character who is obviously manipulative in his asides. But when he presents a believable face to others, we can understand why they trust him. His deviousness evokes laughter from the audience.

The Star Ledger


Throughout Iago's 1,087 lines in the play, Cuccioli makes Elizabethan English seem to be his native tongue. He's just as comfortable with his body language, too. Iago's very much the military man who slaps backs or thrusts out an arm as if he's going to hit a pal -- only to pull back with a "Gotcha!" look at the last minute.

MyCentralJersey

With “Othello,” now on stage at the F.M. Kirby Theatre in Madison, Cuccioli has really hit the jackpot in the evildoer sweepstakes. His character, Iago, is a villain on an epic scale. Indeed, in terms of intelligence and pure mischief, no character in Shakespeare’s canon even comes close,

Leading man looks --Iago has a lot in common with Salieri, so it’s not surprising that Monte would want to leverage Cuccioli’s leading man good looks to re-interpret Iago as, at least on the surface, a charming rogue. Underneath, of course, is a seething volcano of neuroses, rage and sheer spite. They don’t come much darker than this. In fact, Shakespeare scholar Harold Bloom connects Iago to Satan in Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and the comparison is apt.

Like Satan, Iago plots and schemes against a superior being, in this case, the brave and triumphant general, the Moor of Venice, Othello, who has served the Italian state honestly and well. All the Venetians speak highly of him, even as they make cracks about his “thick lips” and “barbarian” origins. There’s more than a whiff of racism here, particularly when Desdemona’s well-connected father (an indignant Bill Christ) objects to her elopement with Othello. But the impressionable Desdemona has a crush on the charismatic Moor and spurns all others. This includes Roderigo (Matt Bradford Sullivan) a feckless gentleman who will, nevertheless, be the key to the downfall of the newlyweds.

Madison Patch

Cuccioli masterfully manipulates the audience with many speeches in which he speaks directly to us, sharing his rationale and passion for the foul deeds he is perpetrating. Having starred here as Julius Caesar and Macbeth, among others, and having served as Broadway’s original “Jekyll and Hyde,” Cuccioli is a proven commodity. Here, he’s in full Hyde mode and relishing the role of antagonist.