Even for fans for such prior endeavors as "The Bomb-itty of Errors" and "Funk it Up About Nothin'," a hip-hop version of "Othello" sounded like a stretch for the Q Brothers, that bizarre pair of theatrically inclined Caucasian rappers, born and raised in Chicago.
It's one thing to rap your way through a comedy, entirely another to take on
Would there be a
But, you know, "Othello: The Remix" turns out to by far the best the work the Bros. Q have done (and I've seen 'em all). I think one of the clues here was the little patch of gray visible on the head on that buzz-cut hipster JQ: the Qs are growing older, which means wiser, slightly sadder, considerably darker, massively more saturated with craft and thus a whole lot more interesting.
For sure, there is more comedy in the remix than the original, not that the original exists any more in any kind of pure state. But humor was part of the playbook here, even back in 1603, when the DJ wore a doublet. "Othello: The Remix" is funny, poetically penned and, best of all, suffused with ideas of striking complexity.
The Qs came up with the notion of turning Othello (O to his friends, not that he has any he can trust) into MC Othello, the rap star. Cassio, whose rise in favor with the Moor is what sets Iago off, is a
Although new to Chicago, where it was workshopped and developed at CST, "Othello: The Remix" has been around for a while — it played in London at the Globe Theatre (the small
Meanwhile, Postell Pringle's Othello is shrewdly underplayed and strikingly sympathetic, capturing the guileless quality of the guy. And by the way, a rapper's chain is a pretty fine substitute for a handkerchief.
With Clayton Stamper spinning above,
But finally, these fascinating Chicago brothers are writing about themselves, their role in culture, their identity as artists, their co-options and creations. And their "Othello" is a killer show.
When: Through April 28
Where: Upstairs at Chicago Shakespeare Theater
Running time: 1 hour, 50 minutes