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THEATRE / Production Notes: Vitaly Malakhov, director of Theatre-on- Podol, on setting Iago in a swimming-pool

Tom Morris
Monday 29 August 1994 23:02 BST

I HAVE never directed a play in a swimming-pool before. The hardest thing was not to turn it into a gimmick. Everybody is waiting to see a nude Desdemona, or Roderigo and Iago doing synchronised swimming. It's not like that at all.

When we started, we used water in every episode. Then we cut the water out from all the places where it didn't have a symbolic impact for the play. Now we only have water where we can't do without it.

We began rehearsing in a small pool in Kiev. When we started, the pool was empty but I still found the atmosphere frightening. There are two episodes where Iago tries to drown Othello. Every time, I am worried because he keeps Othello under the water a bit longer than the last time. It is right that the spectators get afraid at this moment.

But it is more frightening for me because I can't swim. The actors get very cold and I was worried they might get ill. Vladimir Kouznetsov, who plays Othello, has a lung complaint and reacts badly to chlorine. We have to have a change of costume or use towels every time the actors get wet. But in one performance he fell in by mistake and did half of the play in a wet uniform.

All the actors have complained about the water, but once they have an audience in front of them they would be ready to perform even if it was fire.

'Iago' is at the Infirmary Street Swim Centre, Edinburgh, tomorrow and 2 Sept (Booking: 031-557 4963)

Interview by Tom Morris

(Photograph omitted)

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