All summer long at Westmoreland Park, noble Othello keeps finding his life so bollocksed up that, rather than ask his wife, Desdemona, how her hanky got where it shouldn't have gotten, he instead elects to murder her in a pique of suspicion and madness. As far as the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival is concerned, Desdemona is pure, Othello is uncuckolded and the slick-talking Iago is to the Moor's tragedy what Cheney is to Bush's. For playwright Paula Vogel and the inspired theatrical pros of the celebrated Actors Theatre of Kansas City, this story bears closer examination. Tonight, the group premieres its summer season with Vogel's Desdemona, a Play About a Handkerchief, in which a stellar all-female cast (featuring Ashley LaPine, Karen Errington and Vanessa Severo) upends the standard version. Here, in a series of comic scenes and blackouts, is the story behind the story: Desdemona dishes with maids and madams and is less faithful than Shakespeare's virgin but certainly a hell of a lot more interesting. This intimate material is intimately presented, with limited seating, in Room 119 of UMKC's Performing Arts Center, 816-235-6222.
Tuesdays-Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: June 26. Continues through July 20, 2008