In the great baroque "Othello" at the Warners Theater, James Earl Jones gives the Moor a noble monumentality and Christopher Plummer, as Iago, covers every emotional surface and corner with dense and seductive curliques of intrigue. It may be somewhat showy and flamboyant for austere modern tastes, but no more so than, for instance, St. Mark's Cathedral in these characters' home town. These are two no-holds-barred performances, and they are stunning. Jones declaims, weeps, chokes and falls into fits, but his moments of apparent calm, when he melts with love or he tries to hide his first worming doubts behind a polite face, are even more commanding than his wildness. The breadth of soul he displays throughout sweeps away all the traditional arguments about why the Moor should have such a firm grip on Venetian political favor, Desdemona's heart or the audience's sympathy, even after he has been twisted into brutality. Plummer's Iago is contrastingly light in wit as well as in the agility of his evil. But these performances are set in a production with such dreadful faults as to make it seem, at times, as if the two stars had landed in a summer stock theater, rather than arrived with the American Shakespeare Theater. The Desdemona, played by Karen Dotrice, is so wrong as to throw the whole play out of whack. Instead of being an impressionable girl mesmerized by Othello's romantic heroism, she appears as an aloof, cold and haughty woman whose marriage seems suspiciously like the triumph of a celebrity-hunter. In her very death scene, on opening night, she asked Othello what was the matter with such an air of not having bothered to notice that something might have been bothering her husband as to draw a laugh from the audience. It would be interesting to see the understudy, Ellen Newman, who brought romantic luminosity to several Shakepearean leading roles at the Folger, in the part. Throughout the play, which was directed by Peter Coe, there are gestures of violence and/or obscenity at every possible moment. Some of them are shockingly effective -- as when Iago demonstrates his power by giving Desdemona an insultingly lustful kiss -- and others, such as Othello's wounding Iago with a swift sword to the the crotch, are ridiculous. Yet inventiveness fails when it comes to the more mundane requirements. Characters who have been miraculously washed ashore in a storm that destroyed the Turkish navy appear unaffected, in demeanor or wardrobe, by the experience. The lighting seems to have no connection with geography or time of day. The all-purpose set remains an unused background. A few minor parts are developed, notably Graeme Campbell as that sucker, Roderigo, but Kelsey Grammer's pedestrian Cassio is -- well, just about suited to Dotrice's Desdemona. Shakespeare's Othello and Iago may have some flaws in their behavior, but they deserve better than that, and Jones and Plummer unquestionably do. OTHELLO -- At the Warner through September 27.