Review: Othello The Remix @Unicorn_Theatre

The Q broth­ers’ adap­tion of Oth­el­lo breathes some fresh air into the tragedy, bril­liantly trans­lat­ing Wil­li­am Shakespeare’s script into a witty, mod­ern con­text. In reshap­ing the nar­rat­ive, the Q broth­ers intro­duce us to Oth­el­lo, played by Pos­tell Pringle, a suc­cess­ful rap­per in the music industry about to marry the tal­en­ted sing­er Des­de­mona, along with Casio (Jack­son Dor­an) who is Othello’s new right-hand man on the label, and Iago (played by GQ)  bit­ter at being over­looked for Casio’s pos­i­tion. Iago then pro­ceeds to manip­u­late every oth­er char­ac­ter in the play, lead­ing to pain, betray­al and ulti­mately death.

Unlike tra­di­tion­al hip-hop/theatre com­bin­a­tions, this pro­duc­tion suc­cess­fully man­aged to avoid the tacky ste­reo­type of rap in music­al theatre, instead provid­ing sharp, ori­gin­al and intel­li­gent rhymes through­out, packed with Shakespeare and hip-hop allu­sions. Whil­st Othello’s style of rap could be seen as strangely remin­is­cent of Nas or Mobb Deep; Casio’s seemed to prefer hark­en­ing back to the 80’s, almost evoc­at­ive of De La Soul and The Fresh Prince; Iago’s much like Eminem in his early years, an almost schizo­phren­ic style mir­ror­ing his ‘two-faced’ per­sona. As a col­lect­ive, the cast moved through vari­ous gen­res of hip hop, touch­ing on the emo­tion­al, the hyped, and everything in between. The cast were tal­en­ted enough for the music to make a show of its own, with ori­gin­al beats and crowd par­ti­cip­a­tion.

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Des­pite only a four-man ensemble, and DJ Clayton Stamper, the cast do an excel­lent job in cov­er­ing each character’s per­son­al­ity, from JQ’s gull­ible Roderigo to Doran’s unsat­is­fied Emilia, using little more than wigs, aprons and caps.  GQ’s per­form­ance as Iago was par­tic­u­larly strik­ing as a ‘stage-Machiavell (vil­lain)’ darkly twist­ing each character’s per­cep­tion, cul­min­at­ing in his per­form­ance of “The Pup­pet Mas­ter”, mov­ing from tact­fully from scene to scene.

Per­haps the play’s biggest achieve­ment was cap­tur­ing the energy of Shakespeare’s piece and con­vey­ing it to the audi­ence com­pel­lingly, subtly, but power­fully pick­ing up on key under­ly­ing themes in the ori­gin­al play such as the intric­a­cies of friend­ship, racism and fem­in­ism (epi­tom­ised in the com­ic­al rendi­tion of ‘It’s a Man’s World’). The piece was dynam­ic through­out, the end made even more power­ful by the sud­den change in tone, light­ing and pace, cap­tur­ing the atten­tion of audi­ence mem­bers of all ages.

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All in all the per­form­ance was spec­tac­u­lar, with a dif­fi­cult to fol­low open­ing being one of the only pos­sible flaws. It was hugely ori­gin­al, sur­pris­ingly in touch with the audi­ence and highly invent­ive, def­in­itely a must-see.

For more inform­a­tion and for tick­ets click here.

By Seline Alid­ina and Grant Sum­mers 

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Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rish­ma Dhali­wal has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rish­ma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal
Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.

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