Highly Recommended **** Although you might think Chicago Shakespeare Theatre would be stuffy and traditional in its approach to the Bard, you’d be wrong. Definitive proof – the Q Brothers’ brilliantly-written “Othello: The Remix” is back! “Othello: The Remix” is musical, creative, energetic, poetic and oh so much fun! You don’t need to understand (or even like) hip-hop music – or even Shakespeare. for that matter – to love it. “Othello: The Remix” is fresh, fun and original. I give it four Spotlights.
“Othello: The Remix” has just four cast members, GQ, JQ, Jackson Doran and Postell Pringle, and the DJ, Clayton Stamper. As was common in Shakespeare’s day, these four actors play all the characters, including the women, by donning different hats, headbands, and/or wigs.
“Othello: The Remix” retells the Othello story in the midst of the cutthroat music industry. MC Othello (Pringle) is at the top of the hip-hop charts, the darling of his fans. One day, he fell in love with a beautiful singer, the wealthy, aristocratic Desdemona, and secretly married her.
Meanwhile record company CEO, Loco Vito (JQ), who is obsessed with tennis, decides to send his stars out on tour – and we all know how easily discord and jealousy can flare up on a tour. In addition to Othello, the star, the tour includes an up-and-coming glitzy pop music rapper, Cassio (Doran), a more traditional hip hop star, Iago (GQ), several girl singers and a tech crew. Trying to reach a larger demographic, Loco Vito releases Cassio’s album earlier than planned, infuriating Iago, who vows to get even.
In one of my favorite scenes, the guys don necklace/dress fronts and wigs, becoming a girl group to sing a song. They have the girl group choreography down pat, and you have to laugh at their feminine attitudes. Up on the platform, DJ Stamper sports a blond wig. His choreography matches the guys on the floor. His facial expression is an absolute hoot – an ‘I’ve been here before and I’m so done with it’ look.
Desdemona is an unseen presence, yet Pringle manages to make her murder believable. GQ’s back-stabbing Iago is a slime ball, dripping venom everywhere he goes. One of JQ’s characters, a pink-haired Hispanic diva named Bianca, really has attitude. Another, the geeky Rodrigo, actually lisps. Doran’s red-headed Emilia beats the tar out of Iago when she finds out what he’s done to her friend.
The four stars previously appeared at CST in “A Q Brothers Christmas Carol” (2014 & 2015) as well as CST’s 2010/2011 hit, “Funk It Up about Nothin’,” another Q Brothers international hit. They all have formidable acting skills as well as good pipes. They’re obviously good friends, since they also sing together in a hip-hop group, The Retar Crew.
New this year – the guys have groupies and they appear in the lobby after the show to sign autographs and interact with their fans.
“Othello: The Remix” runs through May 8th at in the Upstairs Theatre at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre on Navy Pier.
Running time is 85 minutes, no intermission.
Thursdays 7:30 p.m.
Fridays at 7:30 pm
Saturdays at 3:00 and 8:00 pm
Sundays at 2:00 and 6:00 pm.
Tickets range from $20 (under age 35) to $35 (over age 35). Hurry and order your tickets, several performances are sold out. Parking is available at a 40% discount in the Navy Pier Garages with validation from CST. FYI (312) 595-5600 or www.chicagoshakes.com.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click on “Othello: The Remix”.