Othello: The Remix at the Unicorn Theatre
If the words “musical” and “Othello” have not until now often been paired together, it’s only because this production hadn’t been created yet. The Q Brothers’ re-edit of Shakespeare’s classic play is as astoundingly fun as it is instructive, in its own unconventional way. It is no surprise, then, to note many schoolboys and girls among the audience, and it is a pleasure to see them all attentive and intrigued. Othello: The Remix perhaps wasn’t conceived to serve educational purposes, however this remake of Shakespeare’s tragedy in a modern key is not only interesting in itself but also able to engage young audiences who would likely be less responsive were they to study it in class.
The Q Brothers have re-imagined Othello, keeping its well-known story true to the original but relocating its characters to the 21st century. Othello, Iago, Cassio and Roderigo loosely follow the plot written by the Bard but they are now rappers looking for fame, fighting over women, envious of the success of others, getting kicked out of the crew and seeking revenge. All the themes are still there but the four b-boys onstage deliver their vicissitudes as rap in a flow of alternate rhymes accompanied by the beats and tunes spun by a DJ all the while. There’s space for complete songs as well, always composed in hip-hop style, and choreography.
The Q Brothers star in this musical along with Jackson Doran and Postell Pringle, and not only demonstrate their rapping skills and effective vocal harmony, but excellent stage craft too. They even inhabit the female roles (in a nod to the original presentation) and are utterly hilarious mocking jealous groupies and wives, as well as portraying sensitive and ingenuous but also strong, determined girls. They render their characters with unique features, always in a witty vein and complemented by smooth dance moves. They can be comical as well as dramatic, and know how to entertain the public.
There are cultural references scattered among the rhymes – no need for extra props or special effects – and a general recognition that Othello: The Remix will make people go “Oh ma gawd!!!”.
Othello: The Remix is on at the Unicorn Theatre until 29th September 2013. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch a trailer for Othello: The Remix here: