‘Othello – The Remix’ is a five-man hip hop retelling of Shakespeare’s famous tale of jealousy, betrayal and murder. Avoiding the play’s traditional text, this musical follows the plot through a series of expertly constructed raps and concert atmosphere.
The set is a minimal affair of graffiti-covered classical paintings that conveys early on that this play will be short on the details, but strong on the attitude. The tragedy may anger purists with its fast and loose interpretation of the source material, but it is better to think of this play as a hip-hop homage than as anything else.
Despite some initial concerns with the DJ’s mixing the show performs remarkably well. The cast exhibit both excellent hip hop and acting skills. The production intelligently shouts out both to its pre-millennial rap star influences and the schisms of recent years. Indeed kudos must be given for mirroring the feud between Ice-T and Soulja boy so elegantly in the Iago and Cassio storyline.
Othello has some wonderful moments but its crown is Iago’s song “Why I hate the Moor.” Iago is portrayed throughout the play with all the venom that the scorned friend deserves and the song wraps up his every complaint in one place. It is rare for Iago to be handled in such sympathetic manner, but in recognising the validity of his complaints the play also forces the audience to decide on how much of Desdimona’s murder is his fault.
Overall, ‘Othello – The Remix’ is a fantastically clever reinvention of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays.