Shakespeare Plays Available in Video Format
Scholars Online Educational Resources


All’s Well That Ends Well
Antony and Cleopatra
As You Like It
The Comedy of Errors
Henry IV, part 1
Henry IV, part 2
Henry V
Henry VI, part 1
Henry VI, part 2
Henry VI, part 3
Henry VIII
Julius Caesar
King John
King Lear
Love’s Labour’s Lost
Measure for Measure
The Merchant of Venice
The Merry Wives of Windsor
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Much Ado About Nothing
Richard II
Richard III
Romeo and Juliet
The Taming of the Shrew
The Tempest
Timon of Athens
Titus Andronicus
Troilus and Cressida
Twelfth Night
Two Gentlemen of Verona
The Winter’s Tale

Available versions

1922: Dimitri Buchowetzki

1952/1955: Orson Welles

1965: Stuart Burge

1981: Jonathan Miller

1981: Frank Melton

1989: Janet Suzman

1990: Trevor Nunn

1995: Oliver Parker

2007: Wilson Milam

2015: Iqbal Khan, Robin Lough


1992: Nikolai Serebryakov (animated)

2001: “O”

2001: Othello

2006: Omkara


2015: Shakespeare Uncovered, Season 2, Episode 3

2007: Wilson Milam

This one of the earlier productions from the new Globe Theatre in London, built (roughly) on the site of the original. Like most of these performances — certainly the earlier ones — it is offered in a context and in a style as close as possible to the ones in which Shakespeare exhibited his plays.

Somewhat more subtly, but importantly, it is also faithful to the extent of the original. Whereas many movie versions (and many stage versions too) are brutally cut (some Othellos as short as ninety minutes), this is more conservative, and runs to a length of 195 minutes. The longest I have seen is the Trevor Nunn version from 1990, which runs to 205, and it is arguably the best I have seen as well. It is hard to emphasize too strongly the benefit of leaving these plays as nearly whole as possible. One may perhaps render the basic movements of the plot in half the time, to give the characters life and subtlety requires the whole. Especially in a play like Othello, in which motivations are obscure and troublesome, we need all the help we can get. Shakespeare provided what the play required, but not all productions seem to value the integrity of the play as highly. I find the course the Globe has followed here envigorating and informative, and I am very much an enthusiast for the project.

That being said, presentational authenticity alone does not cover all the values of a performance. The different requirements of stage and film make comparisons problematic. One of the features of stage performance, of course, is that nothing can really be delivered sotto voce: unless an actor can project well without merely cranking up the volume to a roar, the dynamic range extends only from bellowing to shouting and back again, which typically connotes hostility. In this production, some of the actors seem to have grown hoarse before the play is half-done. Some (partcularly John Stahl’s Brabantio) sound hoarse from the very beginning. Later productions at the Globe seem to have done a better job in managing this problem, and the unrelieved shouting has been reined in, but even now, not all are successful in that regard.

Tim McInnerny’s Iago is something of a bellower, and if there’s a weak link in the performance, this is where I’d find it. His addresses to other characters are barked and snarled; his asides to the audience are snarled and barked. Such unvarying delivery makes not only for an acoustically tiring experience for the audience, but also for a monochromatic presentation of the character; it’s particularly obvious when compared with, say, Ian McKellen’s Iago (Trevor Nunn, 1990). Yes — Iago is a bad guy all the time, but the success of his evil lives in his capacity to seem good to other characters most of the time, and to draw them by feigned friendship into complicty in his malignity. The fact that Othello himself virtually always, down to the last act, tags him with an epithet of praise, is only the most obvious confirmation of that point. McInnerny is a highly regarded actor with a wide range of other jobs, and this may be largely a function of direction.

Fortunately, Eamonn Walker’s Othello is more varied and nuanced, and his diction passes through a wide emotional range, from the clear and musical to the maddened and enraged. He has (like most who play Othello) a commanding presence on stage, and (like only the better of them) his performance reflects the whole emotional range of his character. In particular, he conveys the sharpness of Othello’s intellect better than most. The irrationality of conflicting evidence confuses and maddens him, and Walker encompasses the whole experience. We are able to sympathize with both Othello and Desdemona. As an interesting side note, Eamonn Walker had played John Othello in the derivative television miniseries also entitled Othello from 2001. The casting of the character was an interesting choice.

Zoë Tapper is sprimarily known in Britain from television productions and some movies; this is the only piece of filmed stage work that shows up in IMDB. She has also played Hermia in the ShakespeaRe-told series episode of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2015). She is radiant in the role, and projects both the almost childish enthusiasm of her middle part, and projects her vulnerability and the consequent pain when Othello begins to abuse her. I am not sure she’s quite as confident in the range of the role as, say, Imogen Stubbs, but any real comparison of performances is impossible. The scene as she is going to bed, where she says “So would not I: my love doth so approve him,/ That even his stubbornness, his cheques, his frowns...have grace and favour in them,” is devastating in its force. She also has a pretty and clear voice in her subsequent song. Her final scene with Othello is as horrifying as the first time I saw Othello.

Lorraine Burroughs’s presentation of Aemilia also deserves considerable commendation. The part as written is loaded with pathos, but not every actress can carry it off with subtlety and nuance. As she discovers one layer after another of the things that have conspired to destroy her chaste mistress, she registers layer upon layer of new recognition and grief. It’s impressive to watch.

The Globe Theatre productions have not always been spot-on, and some of the more recent plays — comedies in particular — have begun to wander off into rather odd territory, I think. Some of the more serious comedies have been reduced to mere farces, and they do not respond well to such mishandling. A bit of that is going on here too. The final duel between Casio and Roderigo, for example, is unaccountably staged for laughs. It’s not written that way, and no other production I have seen takes it in that direction. It’s not really a funny situation, and its outcome is dire. But here, the texture and emotional force of Othello is sufficiently honored that it presses through and carries its burden home. This is definitely a production worth seeing. The video quality of the DVD is beautiful and preserves a modern high resolution image. Were it no more than an example of how these plays were presented in their first productions, that would be reason enough, but there is a good deal more here. Like all successful renditions of this play, it’s an emotional tour de force and grueling to watch. I’m not sure it’s quite as rich and nuanced as the Trevor Nunn production (1990), but it may be nearly so. Highly recommended, but watching it is no light matter.

The DVD also contains a documentary with Wilson Milam about the preparation for the production and the thinking that shaped it. It’s worth watching.

Aemilia: Lorraine Burroughs

Bianca: Zawe Ashton

Brabantio: John Stahl

Cassio: Nick Barber

Clown: Paul Lloyd

Desdemona: Zoë Tapper

Duke of Venice: Jonathan Newth

Gratiano: Michael O’Hagan

Iago: Tim McInnerny

Lodovico: Dickon Tyrell

Montano: Nigel Hastings

Othello : Eamonn Walker

Roderigo: Sam Crane

Senator: Michael Taibi

Senator/Soldier: Che Walker