By Hemanth Kissoon
“The greatest MC. MC Othello.”
To quote the Q Brothers theatre troupe Facebook page, “Come see us in OTHELLO: THE REMIX, a 75 minute add-rap-tation of Shakespeare's OTHELLO.” Their talented DJ, who spins throughout, gets the audience in the zone with old school toe-tappers like Kris Kross’s JUMP JUMP, and sees us to the exits with The Sugarhill Gang’s RAPPER’S DELIGHT. Let’s get this out of the way straight away, this interpretation is pure joy. Ridiculously fast-paced, inventive and charisma saturated. I saw the Q Brothers “add-rap-tation” of THE COMEDY OF ERRORS – THE BOMB-ITTY OF ERRORS – many years ago, and it blew me away; it was fresh, contemporary and hilarious. While they inject humour here into one of Shakespeare’s most remarkable tragedies, it is not at the expense of pathos. Oh yeah, and you haven’t seen Shakespeare’s Globe theatre like this before – covered in graffiti. The rest of the production has minimalist stylings, a positive, which avoids distraction from the main attraction – the performances that practically bounce of the walls. Also, the sound design in one of the death scenes is stunning.
Othello is at the top of his game, and the best hip-hop artist in the world. Iago, his homie and from the same recording stable, has his jealousy compounded when Othello discovers a new talent, Cassio, who now moves ahead of Iago in the line-up. “I’m opening for an opener,” he spits in bitterness. Meanwhile the “greatest MC” has fallen for Desdemona, a gifted singer we never witness but hear her voice. A nice touch. It’s just four guys, and a DJ, performing all the parts ye olde times-stylee (bar the boiler suits with rotating headwear). The portrayals of Bianca, Emelia and Roderigo are hilarious.
There are modern pop culture references, from Boris Becker to WORLD OF WARCRAFT, and He-Man to HARRY POTTER. The warrior and kingdom settings have been transposed seamlessly to the high stakes of music and corporations. Themes of friendship, success and jealousy are explored, plus male ego and pride. Don’t be fooled into thinking that accessibility and energy is an excuse for dumbing down. Verbal dexterity prevails.
“How about that beat?” Bianca
“I know, it bangs!” Cassio