Shit-Faced Shakespeare (4 stars)

This article is from 2012

Shit-Faced Shakespeare

A gut-busting hour of rowdy theatre with the odd moment of discomfort

Don’t worry, overseas visitors, the actors in Shit-Faced Shakespeare don’t have actual excrement smeared over their faces. Although it’s possible that, before the end of this run, that might actually happen. Instead, a different cast member turns up every night to play a part in A Midsummer Night’s Dream completely shit-faced: plastered, pissed up, inebriated, mindlessly drunk.

Tonight, it’s John Sebastian playing Demetrius, who stumbles, lunges and burps his way around the stage for most of the hour. The set-up’s unpredictability makes for a hilarious opening: tonight, Sebastian forgets his own lines but remembers everyone else’s, drunkenly moans, ‘my agent told me not to do this show’ and at one point, struts to the front of the stage and majestically declares, ‘I will only drink gin!’

There’s an, ‘I love you, man’ undercurrent to his performance as well, as he can’t stop telling the audience how good all his fellow actors are. He’s right, too; the rest of the cast are impressive, and not just at keeping a straight face when things go wrong. Without their talent – and with a less convivial drunk – this would be a frustrating evening.

That said, the show can be uncomfortable to watch, especially when the already shit-faced Sebastian is presented with yet more booze to down. An audience member behind me whispers, ‘he can’t die from this, can he?’ and a lot of people look genuinely worried, but the night’s compere seems always on hand to avert disaster. With this show, Tax Deductible Theatre provide a much-needed late night offering for people who don’t care for stand-up but want to see theatre that’s a bit more rowdy after 10pm. It won’t win any plaudits from the health authorities, but it’s a gut-busting hour that rediscovers the original raucous spirit of Shakespeare.

C, 0845 260 1234, until 27 Aug (not 13), 10.20pm, £9.50--£11.50 (£7.50--£9.50).

Shit-Faced Shakespeare clip

Shit-Faced Shakespeare

  • 3 stars

Shakespeare performed as he would have wanted (perhaps). The play is entirely serious in every respect except that one of the actors is completely shit-faced.

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