By William Shakespeare
Directed by John Dexter

The National Theatre
Opened 21 April 1964, Closed 8 September 1966 (in repertory) at the Old Vic Theatre
Transferred 12 September 1966, Closed 4 February 1967 (in repertory) at the Queen's Theatre

  • Michael Rothwell ... Roderigo
    Frank Finlay ... Iago
    Martin Boddey ... Brabantio
    Laurence Olivier ... Othello
    Derek Jacobi ... Cassio
    Edward Petherbridge ... Senate officer
    George Innes ... Senate officer
    Edward Caddick ... Gratiano
    Keneth Mackintosh ... Lodovico
    Harry Lomax ... Duke of Venice
    Terence Knapp ... Duke's Officer
    Keith Marsh ... Senator
    Tom Kempinski ... Sailor
    Peter John ... Messenger
    Maggie Smith ... Desdamona
    Edward Hardwicke ... Montano
    William Hobbs ... Cypriot Officer
    Roger Heathcott ... Cypriot Officer
    Keith Marsh ... Cypriot Officer
    Joyce Redman ... Emilia
    Neil Fitzpatrick ... Herald
    Mary Miller ... Bianca

    Senators, Soldiers, Cypriots:
    Raymond Clarke, Neil Fitzpatrick, Reginald Green, Roger Heathcott, William Hobbs, George Innes, Caroline John, Peter john, Tom Kempinski, Terence Knapp, Keith Marsh, Ronald Pember, Edward Petherbridge, Sheila Reid, John Rogers, Robert Russell, Frank Wylie.
  • Frank Finlay's most subtle Iago is the only one I have ever seen who comes near to justifying the title "honest, honest." He also makes a perfect touchstone for all the other characters.

    Bamber Gascoigne
    The Observer

    Frank Finlay's Iago runs a strangely effective gamut from braggart to whimpering, self justifying neurotic, plainly deranged by the last scene; an Iago who wanes but seems quite unusually well motivated.

    Philip Hope-Wallace
    The Guardian.

    Frank Finlay's convincing and powerful Iago is bluff, provincial noisy and professionally jealous, sometimes goading himself into hysterical furry, less a Machiavelli than one of those amoeba-minded Southern Senators who still foam at the mouth at the thought of a black man and a white woman getting into bed together.

    Harold Hobson
    The Sunday Times

  • As an actor, Gielgud was heart and soul, while Olivier was blood and guts, so it's not surprising that Olivier seems the more tortured. Although blessed with phenomenal talent, looks and success, he remained restless, suspicious and threatened by competition. He didn't have to go into the ring to fight it out, but in 1966, when he was planning Othello at the National, he faced a problem. Audiences had become more cynical than in Kean's day - now they relished Iago's deviousness and were impatient with Othello's vulnerability - so the reigning champion might be at a disadvantage. Frank Finlay, a fine but undemonstrative actor, was cast as Iago, and his lines reduced. Unnecessary precautions, I believe. Olivier's blacked-up Othello may not be PC nowadays, but it was an astonishing piece of acting: every fibre of his being transformed into someone else. And yet the curse of the Moorish play - a duel between the two protagonists - had one more twist in its tail. When the production was filmed, the camera was unflattering to Olivier's huge performance, while revealing Finlay's low-key Iago to be superb.

    Sir Anthony Sher - You don't have to be mad to be a great actor ... but it helps.
    The Guardian, Thursday May 24, 2007.