Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival

Kingsmen Park, 100 Memorial Parkway

Thousand Oaks, CA   91362


Everyone has a different idea of a good time. For some it’s when a 100-degree day moves aside for a perfect balmy evening, and CLU’s Shakespeare Festival presents “Othello” in Kingsmen Park. As the birds head off to their evening nests and frogs sound from a nearby stream, a beautiful production unfolds – making it easy to see why this might be some people’s idea a good time.


And then, there’s Iago.


Iago has served as the original blueprint for every super-villain for 400 years running, who hates all which can be good in the human race and, with cunning deftness, intends to destroy it at every turn.


We’re introduced to Jason McBeth’s Iago as he approaches a senator’s home and shouts out an alarm that the senator’s daughter (Rachel Seiferth) and a moor are in the process of “making the beast with two backs,” still one of the greatest semi-bawdy descriptions of sex ever penned. It doesn’t take long for the senator (Jason D. Rennie) to get suckered into hating this noble Moor named Othello, just as Iago wants.


“Trust not your daughters words,” the senator bellows, “but what you see them act.” And yet if Iago has his way, he will convince the senator and all those around that his own actions are noble, in their interest, and that no one else is to be trusted. McBeth’s version of Iago is made unattractive in his gait and his hatred, all while clad in a semi-contemporary black leather jacket. This Iago is a love-destroying earworm with a dash of Sha-Na-Na.


“Put but money in thy purse,” Iago insists, a Shakespearean Gordon Gecko. He cons Cassio (Connor Sullivan), a handsome young man of virtue to get drunk with a raucous gang and lures him into a fight, then retrieves Othello just in time to see Cassio brawling.


Cassio mourns the loss his reputation. Iago scoffs at this “false imposition” and encourages him to make amends by reaching out to Othello’s wife. Iago has created an opportunity, of course, to bring Othello in at just the right moment to see Casio running away from a clandestine meeting with his wife. This, and a well-placed handkerchief  gives Othello the smidge of proof that something’s awry.


Matt Orduna plays our title character with all the power and goodness, human failings and eventual murderous capacity of the best Othello’s. When poisoned by Iago’s suspicions, Orduna physically reacts. “Farewell, the tranquil mind” he mourns, eventually strangling his Desdemona in her bedroom. Made to realize his error by Iago’s wife Emilia (Angela Gulner, who leaves us wondering if we can trust her or not), Othello falls upon his sword. This leaves in a final pool of designer Leigh Allen’s light the lone smirking figure of Iago, our incarnate of evil, to carry on his work. McBeth’s characterization was enough to inspire a Sunday evening crowd to audibly boo & hiss, leaving many wanting his blood.


The joy of such a rich and timeless story in Kingsmen Park is enhanced by the fact that its presentation is done without the aid or distraction of a single glowing screen. Christopher Hoag’s subtle sound cues help the action, and Andrea Heilman’s set is simple, solid, functional and colorful; a balanced kaleidoscope of muted colors fill the background without detracting from the action.


The 22nd Annual Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival has given us yet another rare treat: an analog presentation of a timeless tale in a beautiful natural setting – a classic experience for family and friends alike that is worth waiting for. After all, “how poor are they who had not patience.”



June 29 thru August 5, 2018

Kingsmen Shakespeare Festival

Kingsmen Park, 100 Memorial Parkway

Thousand Oaks, CA   91362

Tickets: 805-493-3452 or online at:


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