“a creative, fresh and inspiring approach to Shakespeare’s text”
‘Othello Remixed’ takes the epic tragedy – a story of jealousy and manipulation – and puts it in the centre of young urban culture. Othello is not a warrior, but a boxer, and in the words of its director, the script has “as many ‘fams’ as we do ‘thees’ and ‘thous’”. Darren Raymond, Artistic Director of Intermission Theatre Company and writer (after Shakespeare) and director of the piece, goes on to draw parallels between the rhythms of new language being created by young people and Elizabethan slang. And this parallel is clear in performance. Words from two different eras run together seamlessly. The themes are made shockingly contemporary, and I have never seen an audience laugh so much in a production of Othello.
The cast is made up of graduates from Intermission Theatre’s Youth Theatre who have gone on to professional careers in the industry. Highlights include Kwame Reed as Othello, Iain Gordon as Rico and Micah Loubon as Cassio. Hoda Bentaher delivers a standout performance as Desdemona, supported by Nakeba Buchanan as Emilia in another brilliant performance. Baba Oyejide plays the demanding role of Iago. He takes some time to settle into it but gets stronger over the course of the play excelling as he becomes increasingly more manipulative whilst repeatedly talking about honesty.
There is a little too much movement and comedy in the second act. Having created comedy so successfully in the earlier half of the play, stillness is needed to impress the gravity of the more serious moments. The piece isn’t as hard hitting as it’s Shakespearean counterpart and the edits to the ending take away from the usual impact the final scenes have.
Designed by Catherine Morgan, the set is a detailed study of a boxing studio, the ring in the centre, red and blue, the walls hung with punch bags, gloves and towels. It looks immediately dynamic and bold.
This is a creative, fresh and inspiring approach to Shakespeare’s text that places it slap bang in the modern world, but loses some of the original’s tragic weight.
“a seminal play about family, racism and history, brought to life by vivid and genuine performances across the cast”
Summer Rolls is the first British-Vietnamese play to be staged in the UK, and Park Theatre is its home. Written by Tuyen Do, the play explores racism, the impact of war, culture and community, through the lens of a single family across several decades. Mai’s parents and older brother escaped war-torn Vietnam at a time when Mai was too young to remember. Brought up in the UK, Mai resists the traditional values of her parents that tell her how should behave, what she should become and who she should marry. But she documents the shadows of her family’s scars and secrets – her father sleepwalking at night for example – through her camera, learning her history in stills. Performed across the Vietnamese and English languages, this is a play about the collision of two cultures.
The set by Moi Tran presents a traditional Vietnamese home, a kitchen station with chopsticks and fish sauce, two sewing machines, a radio that brings the politics of the outside world in. Mai and her black boyfriend seem to exist in contrast to this space, a reminder of the London culture that the family are living within.
The staging sometimes lets down the play, closing off the conversations to most of the audience. From a writing perspective, there is sometimes a clumsiness around delivery of the various revelations that shape the play, too sudden or conversely predictable. As a whole, the story has a fragmented feel to it, and the scenes do not move well between each other, lacking fluency at points. However the strength of individual scenes, and the characters and relationship created within them, still make this a very enjoyable evening.
Mai’s mother is sharp, funny and dedicated to her children. She is played in a standout performance by Linh-Dan Pham. Anna Nguyen and Keon Martial-Phillip are also particularly strong as the young couple, exploring London adolescence, sex and alcohol and art. The relationships between the characters feel consistently genuine, complex and tender.
This is a seminal play about family, racism and history, brought to life by vivid and genuine performances across the cast.