Jealousy and betrayal are explored in The Q Brother’s Othello – The Remix with ultra-cool style. Blending choice quotes from the original with clever rap lyrics, four actors and a DJ create a truly compelling 21st Century version of this tragic Shakespearian play.
I studied Othello at school and haven’t returned to it since, but these slick performers displayed the story in a dazzling new light, making me long to reread the text. Full of multi-faceted characters and complex psychology, the play tells of successful moor Othello as he is poisoned by colleague Iago’s words into believing his wife is unfaithful and he eventually smothers her.
The Q Brothers take the 17th Century Venetian army setting and transform it into a present day hip hop group. Vibrant music beats accompany throughout and words are rapped with impressive assurance and emotional conviction. All characters are delightfully reinterpreted but most wonderful is Loco Vito, the tennis-obsessed group’s manager. When life is good, it’s “like Sharapova on a clay court”; a bad day is how Federer feels when beaten by Nadal. Roderigo is also intriguingly altered, taking a computer game-obsessed nerd persona, and Iago’s wife Emilia becomes a sex-starved South American beauty.
It took me a while to tune into the lightning pace of the speech, but for those more used to hip hop music, this should be no problem. I highly recommend this witty and utterly relevant production and if schools have any sense, they will soon be using it to inspire a whole new generation of teenagers to love Shakespeare.
**** – 4/5 stars
Othello – The Remix is playing at Pleasance as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival until 27 August. For more information and tickets, see the Edinburgh Fringe website.