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Shakespeare reboot struggles to convince

Fiction: New Boy By Tracy Chevalier, Hogarth, £12.99

Shakespeare's tragic hero Othello morphs into a 1970s black schoolboy in Tracy Chevallier's reworking of one of the Bard's most powerful plays.

The betrayed Moor of Venice becomes Osei, a Ghanaian student who joins a new, all-white school in Washington, DC, and has to navigate the petty bigotries of the playground.

This is not the first time Shakespeare has been updated into a school-set tale - Heath Ledger's film 10 Things I Hate About You, for example, was a Generation Y retelling of The Taming of The Shrew.

Chevalier's backdrop of primary/junior school relationships and the loneliness and challenges of the new student trying to forge friendships strikes a chord even without the additional and pivotal racial backdrop.

But ultimately it struggles to convince and some of the child dialogue feels pretty unconvincing.

Othello is a hard, brutal and grown-up drama of love, anger and betrayal.

David Wilcock

Belfast Telegraph

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