The 50 strong queue outside the Donmar afterwards shows what a star Tom Hiddleston has become while only a few years ago, he was playing an eye-catching but supporting Cassio to Ewan McGregor and Chiwetel Ejiofor in Othello.
In this visually stark and striking production, Hiddleston is the battle hardened soldier who is more interested in confrontation than being popular. His portrayal has the restraint physicality and a hard shell only softened at the very end. The single minded focus on conflict is evident but there is a glimmer of a more complex psyche underneath. His physique also adds to the strength of his role.
The production, directed by Josie Rourke and designed by Lucy Osborne is a largely classical staging with a few modern and contemporary twists. There is electronic music with a heavy base line and projections for some scene changes. The costume in muted tones has a post apocalyptic aesthetic with an emphasis on leather accessories. The whole cast lines up in a row of seats in the opening scenes as if they are sitting on a substitute bench for a football game. Visually, there are some beautifully realised moments such as the shower and the final scene, helped by the stark and large array of lighting by Mark Henderson with a few pyrotechnics thrown in to add to the drama.
The wordiness of the text occasionally makes the play feels as long as the near three hours running time. But the performance and the staging is enough to make this a very satisfying production, that is if you can get a ticket at all.