this is frantic

Imagine, if you will, a run-down working men’s boozer, the seedy backstreets of Bradford, a gobby, top-knotted Desdemona, and a pool-cue-wielding Iago, head-to-toe in Adidas. It’s a distinctly This Is England aesthetic, and one that surprisingly works in this ultra-modern (read: ultra-audacious), take on Shakespeare’s most brutal and absorbing tragedy. Of course, Frantic Assembly – known as much for their deadly dance moves as they are for their sharp-tongued delivery – have been here before: Scott Graham’s exhilarating and superbly choreographed Othello, previously a co-production with Theatre Royal Plymouth, first exploded onto the stage in 2008 and it seems, holds just as much potency today.

On entering the retro cinema-seated auditorium of The Lyric, the audience is met with a banging club soundtrack so ear-splittingly loud you wonder if the poor OAPs in the front row might need a swift interval lie-down, not least a stiff drink. Except there isn’t room for any half-time respite – this unapologetically stripped-down Othello has a running time of just 100 minutes. Frantic’s feisty acrobats-with-iambic-pentameter take us on a non-stop, highly-charged journey of paranoia, jealousy, sex and murder – unquestionably timeless, and placeless, themes whether a character is unsheathing his dagger in a Cypriot castle or indeed, threatening to glass his companion, thrust against the fruit machine of a West Yorkshire pub.

Mark Ebulue, recently of the RSC and interestingly, a former kickboxer, makes for an imposing and brooding Moor, while Kirsty Oswald’s Desdemona is a loud-mouthed – but wholly likeable – ladette. The brilliantly snake-like Iago, played by the skinhead (for this part, at least) Steven Miller, steals the show with his heinous acts of hate – made all the more terrifying in the context of 21st century gang violence. Perhaps not one for purists but still, The Bard by way of Bradford? We’re in for the thrill.

Until 7 February, King Street, W6 (020 8741 6850)