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Othello Remixed (Play Review) Othello Remixed (Play Review)
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Othello Remixed (Play Review)

A lot has been written about Othello, a play Shakespeare wrote in 1603 that was actually based It is based on the story Un Capitano Moro (“A Moorish Captain”) by Cinthio first published in 1565, much cantering around Iago’s motivation to be bring about the destruction of his move loved General.

 

This version the setting is not Venice, but in a boxing club somewhere in London. Othello is preparing for a championship fight and much to everyone’s surprise he chooses Cassio for the position of ‘corner man’ over the expected favourite Iago.

 

Iago is hugely offended and vows to wreak revenge on Othello for this slight, firstly by trying to convince Desdemona’s father that Othello has gained his daughters love through foul and devious means.

 

Unsuccessful in this, Iago resorts to instilling jealousy in Othello’s mind by insinuating that Desdemona is having a secret affair with Cassio.

 

Firstly he encourages Cassio to confide in Desdemona, thus encouraging their closeness. He then ensures that Othello’s witnesses this seemingly growing illicit relationship.

 

Consumed with rage and to save face Othello kill his beloved Desdemona. Upon carrying out the deed, he learns that Iago was responsible for the situation and filled with remorse takes his own life.

 

Kwame Reed is admirable as Othello, skilfully through words and nuanced gestures he brings to life both the strength and vulnerability of the Moor prince.

 

Baba Oyejide is magnificent as the villainous and conniving Iago, a role he seemed to relish.

 

When asked how he got into the ‘mind’ of Iago, Baba said “In the area of Hackney that I live, I’ve saw so many Iago type characters, so what I did was use all my experiences and situations that I observed and brought them into the role”.

 

Most of the comedic moments are provided Iain Gordon as the hapless Rico, as he’s deceived at every turn by wily Iago. His facial expressions and deft timing were first-rate. Here’s a comedy actor in the making.

 

Hoda Bentaher gives an accomplished performance Desdemona, as does Micah Loubon as the loyal Cassio.

 

The rest of the supporting cast are accomplished in their respective roles, helping this to make this one of the best interpretations of Othello I’ve seen in a while.

 

Asked why his ‘mashed up’ Elizabethan text with urban street slang, director Darren Raymond said”Shakespeare was simply reflecting the language of his time. Young people create language all the time. The rhythms they use match Elizabethan slang so well. So in our version we have as many ‘fams’ as well as ‘thees’ and thous’.”

 

He further went on to explain that he set Othello in a boxing ring because he saw parallels between Othello and Mike Tyson. Both experienced racism, wanted to be loved and were also victims of exploitation.

 

By boldly interjecting street talk into Othello, Intermission Theatre has brought the bard’s work to a wider audience and to certain sections of society that have longed been excluded from it. The result has been massively successful.

 

With a frighteningly good cast, generous amounts of humour and a thumping soundtrack of RnB, mixed with 80s soul and the some hard funk by James Brown there’s little to fault this energetic and compelling version.

 

Hire a minibus and take all the family, young and old to see this highly recommended production by a theatre company that’s quietly helping to restore social mobility to London’s disadvantaged young people.

 

Tue 25 Jun – Sun 14 July, 7.30pm, Sundays 4pm (excl Mon) Tickets £16, £13 Conc, Previews £10. https://www.omnibus-clapham.org/othello-remixed/

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