Friday, 13 September 2013

Re-review: Othello: The Remix (Q Brothers / Chicago Shakespeare Theater / Unicorn Theatre)

When a handful of 2012's Globe to Globe shows were announced as returning this year I did wonder if the reason the Q Brothers' Othello: The Remix wasn't among them was that it had a longer run in mind somewhere else. When I saw it last year it made it onto my top ten shows of 2012, and I know many people considered it a highlight of the season. True enough, it's back in London for a longer run, this time a little further down the river. Perhaps with a view to inspiring young audiences to seek out Shakespeare in the original text, its new home is the Unicorn, a venue dedicated to children's theatre; the show's occasional bit of swearing hasn't been modified though, the only concession being an "over-13s" warning. I don't think there could ever be a better stage for this than the Globe, whose very incongruousness for a hip-hop show added to the party atmosphere, but the Weston turns out to have a large stage and good sightlines, and offer the odd opportunity for the cast to run around the audience.

The original unnecessary interval, possibly imposed by Globe to Globe, is now gone so the show runs straight through at 80 minutes, but little else has changed: The same cast of five play all the parts and DJ, GQ's Iago still has a real sinister gleam in his eye as he schemes to take revenge on more successful rappers Othello and (Cass-Cass-)Cassio(uh-huh,) and JQ's Loco Vito, CEO of First Folio Records, is still inexplicably obsessed with tennis.


There's a long tradition of Shakespeare being adapted into musicals and Othello: The Remix slots happily into that, not just providing a great buzz but also a number of memorable tunes - "This Is Why I Hate The Moor," "Cassio," "Chameleon," "A Man's World" and "You Made Your Bed" had all stayed with me since last year, and fans of the show will be glad to know there's now a cast recording available from the "Unicorner Shop." I took my Shakespeare-phobic sister along with me this time and although, even if it does encourage 13-year-olds to try out the real thing, it's unlikely to have the same effect on her, she still loved this for what it is, and was blown away by Postell Pringle in the title role.


When I first told people one of my 2012 Globe trips would be to see a hip-hop adaptation of Othello, most people's response was "rather you than me." By the time it became apparent what a hot ticket this was, it was already over. You've got longer to catch it this time, so don't make the same mistake again.

Othello: The Remix by the Q Brothers, based on Othello by William Shakespeare, is booking until the 29th of September at the Unicorn Theatre's Weston.

Running time: 1 hour 20 minutes straight through.

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