‘Shakespeare was the greatest rapper of them all,’ somebody asserts towards the end of the Q Brothers’ hip-hop remix of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’.
Accepting that contemporary accounts do not record whether Willie S’s flow was whack or dope, we know what he means: Shakespeare’s grasp of verse was so formidable that many people still find it hard to believe that a single man was responsible for his body of work. Watching skilled MCs blitz their way through his finest soliloquies would be quite something.
What a shame, then, that ‘Funk It Up About Nothin’ retains only the plot of Shakespeare’s play, replacing his words wholesale with heavily ironic, Beastie Boys-esque rhymes that elicit plenty of chuckles, but leave possibly the greatest romcom ever written drained of actual romance. It’s a lot of fun, with some killer lines (my favourite, from Leonato, at Hero’s funeral: ‘this isn’t a eulogy, it’s a me-logy!’) and great, gutsy performances (co-creator GQ excels in a trio of roles).
But at only 70 minutes in length, it feels like a weirdly insubstantial enterprise to have carted over all the way from Chicago.