'Othello: The Remix:' a Funny Retelling of the Classic Shakespeare Play [REVIEW]
Shakespeare’s Othello may be a tragedy, but Othello: The Remix is laugh-out-loud funny.
Although the play has been marketed as “Hamilton-esque,” that isn’t exactly true–and that isn’t a bad thing. While both plays present an age-old story via hip-hop tropes, Othello: The Remix is flashy and modern–and almost always tongue-in-cheek.
Shakespeare’s play follows Othello, a beloved and powerful general, his devoted wife, Desdemona, Othello’s second in command, Cassio and Othello’s envious lackey and antagonist of the play, Iago. In this Q Brothers’ 80-minute hip-hop adaptation, Othello (Postell Pringle) is a respected rapper set at the top of the game similar to Jay Z. He even says “I got the hottest dame in the game wearing my chain” as a nod to Jay’s infamous “Public Service Announcement” line.
Cassio (Jackson Doran) and Iago (GQ) seem inspired by Big Sean and Consequence, respectively. Iago was expected to succeed Othello but instead Cassio, who develops catchier hooks but less complex rhymes, gets the next shot. Doran’s Cassio shines throughout the show.
As for Desdemona, only her singing voice is heard; there are no women in the play.
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Although it would have been a great opportunity for another talented woman (Renée Elise Goldsberry bodied the craft in Hamilton as Angelica Schuyler Church); the absence of women didn’t completely hinder the show.
The show also features a flood of hip-hop references: J. Dilla’s drumming, Outkast’s The Love Below, A Tribe Called Quest’s “Award Tour” and “Electric Relaxation,” Jay Z’s “Girls Girls, Girls,” Common’s “The Light,” The Roots’ Things Fall Apart, Kanye West (“conflict diamonds”) are all alluded to at various points.
Certain moments suggest the creators may be out of touch; terms like “homeslice” are used and the CEO of Othello’s label rocks a bandana and flannel shirt that looks straight out of a 90s West Coast rap video or coming-of-age hood movie.
But Othello: The Remix works because it isn’t afraid to make fun of itself and own up to its cheesiness. Othello: The Remix is at New York City’s Westside Theatre. Tickets can be purchased here.
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Author: Victoria Johnson
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