If you’d told me that after three years of intense training at drama school, and after revising a Shakespearian script, character development and weeks of rehearsals that I must now consume about three quarters of a bottle of gin and perform to a live audience, there is no way I would assume it would go as successfully as Sh*t Faced Shakespeare seem to achieve. And that’s exactly what they do!
Directed by Rev. Lewis Ironside, 4 hours before curtain up, the lucky (or unlucky depending on how you look at it) member of the cast consumes a lot of alcohol before taking to the stage. The set up for the audience is set up immediately on curtain up. We have our host that explains the rules before the show starts, including two audience members being given the power to stop the play at any time to make the actor down a drink; then go straight into the plot. You, the audience are not told who the drunk actor is at the start, or which part they play, so for the first few moments you are on the edge of your seat.
The night I attended this version of Taming of the Shrew, the drunkard was Petruchio who managed to produce most of his lines correctly, although some shouted, said to the wrong actor and one with added swearing. The host is also there on stage to keep an eye on the sh*t faced actor, to just make sure they don’t fall off stage, get naked (which apparently has happened before) and to keep the play going.
This heavily edited, but not rushed play lasts as advertised around 70mins which is impressive. Although I don’t condone excessive drinking for others amusement, the balance this company find between professionalism and the non existent third wall is spot on. Even when the heckling audience members were chanting ‘drink drink’ the host shouted at them that this was classic theatre and not that of a sports bar. Its’ evident all the actors know the play and the characters inside out, even if they don’t get to display it every night – because they often have to adlib to the drunk actor.
Possibly not a production if you’re looking for knowledge into Shakespeare’s classics, but if you’re looking for fun, laughs and suspense its certainly a winner.
The impressive cast are Stacey Norris, Saul Marron, Briony Rawle, Lucy Farrar, Rob Smythson, Will Seaward, Matthew Seager, Jack Forsyth-Noble.
Photo: Rah Petherbridge
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