Or Not To Bling?
(8th March 2003)
Hello, theres a bus advertising something hip hop. And theres another. I cant seem to walk between any two of Dublin's boozers without a number 57 disappearing round the corner just fast enough that I cant read what the huge poster on the back is all about. Me and Donna Donnelly are in Dublin for a couple of days R&R. Thats rest and (more) rest. Not rocknroll. But were up for some H&H (thats hip and hop) if its on while we're here. So the elusive advert is intriguing. It looks like someones tagging the arse end of all the public transport in town. Bomb the bus. Heh Heh. But its not so intriguing that we wont just duck into Messrs Maguire (we recommend it, as a break from the Guinness hegemony) for a quick pint of plain.
And what do you know? While the barmans busying himself over the perfect Irish coffee and my pints settling, Donna D turns up a postcard from the other end of the bar. Its the bus advert. Jesus. The Bomb-Itty of Errors.
"Shakespeares cool rediscovered? You better believe it" The Daily Telegraph.
Please, no. Surely it couldnt be. Not. No. Really, I mean it. No.
"If you dont know hip-hop from boogie-woogie, youre still likely to have a good time with the infectious fun generated by the engaging new show." The Chicago Tribune.
"The Bomb-Itty of Errors is a unique and bold hip hop spin on Shakespeares farcical tale of mistaken identities."
"The Bomb-Itty of Errors is a clever, hilarious and wildly energetic show that combines Shakespeares love of wordplay with the streetwise language of rap."
No. I thought that flyer for Authentic I picked up in Cambridge was a stillborn one-off:
"Dancers versus DJs, contemporary dance versus hip hop:"
No. No. No.
"Shakespeares Othello as youve never seen it before."
Jesus wept, no more.
Shakespeare is not LL Cool J he doesnt need a beat and hip hop is already poetry, it needs Shakespeare about as much as it needs Shakin' Stevens. But this isnt about art, its about brand extension. Out of ideas? Exploit an existing brand. Hip hop and Shakespeare are established brands and The Bomb-Itty of Errors is, sadly, just another example of the post-modern malaise. Its everywhere. Cant think of a new biscuit? Simple stick M&Ms or Bounty on top. Cant think of a new ice-cream? Simple, stick Marathon or Milky Way into it. Cant think of a good flavour for crisps? Simple, stick Marmite or baked beans on em. Richard Branson is the archbishop of the Church of Brand Bending. Virgin licences its name to make clothes, run phone networks, produce fizzy drinks, sell electricity, fly you around the world, mortgage your house and, oh yes, put records out. Talking of which, the music biz isnt beyond a bit of brand recycling either. Cant find a decent new song for Will or Gareth? Simple, take a classic and let them tear it to pieces. Cant find any good new bands? Simple, find some that play 30-year-old music and flog that instead.
Is there such a dearth of creativity that the only way to come up with something new is to bastardise something else? Im no expert, but it looks that way. Theatre attendances down? Get a film actor in. Attendances still down? Recreate a film on stage. Attendances still down? Get Ben Elton to dream up an excruciatingly flimsy bullshit storyline that segues a load of Queen songs into a show for the coachloads of provincial wannabee sophisticates looking for a good-time night out. That ought to do it. That or jam a DJ onto the balcony with Juliet. "Romeo, Romeo, w-w-w-w-w-w-wherefore art thou, Romeo?"
But, you know what? I really dont care. If somebodys getting off on a bunch of jobbing actors murdering Freddie Mercurys finest moments, then good luck to em. If thats how they want to waste their hard-earned, then so be it. Fine.
But, you know what? I really do care. Not about Queen. But about the idea that anybody thinks theres any point rewriting The Comedy of Errors for a DJ and MC and no doubt a bunch of dancers wearing brightly coloured shirts over string vests, bandanas, baggy pants and inane Tru-Brite smiles. Are devotees of Shakespeare, highly renowned for their open-mindedness when it comes to new art, likely to embrace this revision of The Bards work? I doubt it. Is any self-respecting hip hop fanatic going to nip off to the theatre for a sanitised, Sunday School sermon version of the hardcore beats and rhymes they love with a half-time helping of Haagen-Daas in a cardboard thimble? I dont think so.
So who is this for? Well, The Bomb-Itty of Errors Its for people who dont know hip hop from boogie-woogie and cant concentrate long enough to sit through a Shakespeare play in its intended form. Its for people who think that "Bomb-Itty of Errors" is a good pun and somehow think that going to the theatre makes them sophisticated despite these flaws. But this is just one example of the general principal, and that's for people who snarf up whatever crud were fed by a mainstream media thats in thrall to the corporations remaking the things we were already perfectly happy with in ways we couldnt care less about.
And how to stop it? Dont buy the crap. To bling, or not to bling? Easy. Not.
home : reviews : interviews : live : features : shop : search: contact