I have never been to a production of Shakespeare where the wonderful words of the great Bard himself are so entirely irrelevant as in Shit-Faced Shakespeare.
Lights go down, plastic wine caps are unscrewed (classy theatre goers that we are) and we eagerly await a play which has all the makings of something marvellous or something monstrous in equal measure.
The question “will I be able to tell immediately which actor is drunk?” answers itself when four actors dance on stage, one with an idiotically beatific smile plastered across his slightly glazed countenance – for that night it was evidently the already hiccupping Lysander who was on the lash.
If the pessimist in me was initially suspicious as to the authenticity of this intoxication, doubt was quickly assuaged when the inebriate threw himself across the stage in pursuit of the half empty bottle of vodka, was tackled by his “director” (in fabulously glittery leggings and hightops) and hit the deck so hard that the mournful actor had to be fetched a plaster to stop his grazed knees befouling his costume.
The star of the play will always be the only actor in which everyone is interested: the pissed performer. Forget Shakespeare, forget stage direction, forget any majesty of performance or elegance of set, this piece of theatre is about one thing and one thing only – what on earth is that shit-faced thespian going to do next?
In truth the whole thing is an entirely unintelligent and inelegant concept. That, however paradoxically, is the genius of it all however.
The irresistible humour of four actors trying to navigate their way to some kind of conclusion whilst one hiccups and slurs his way from inappropriate comment to uninvited stage interruption is the perfect balance between buffoonery and chaos.
I’m sure the novelty would soon wear off and the initial humour would inevitably run drier than I’d imagine that poor actor’s mouth is the morning after a show. As a first timer, however, Shit-Faced Shakeapeare is an hour of easy laughter and, for one recently out of university, shaming relatability.
On the subject of alcohol itself, one of Shakespeare’s characters famously proclaims, “I would not put a thief in my mouth to steal my brains.” I’d reply to this, you should. Because it’s funny.
Press Night Performance Cast:
Stacey Norris- Helena
Beth-Louise Priestley- Hermia
Rob Smythson- Puck
Lewis Ironside- Compere
John Mitton- Demetrius
Saul Marron- Lysander and designated drunk