Last week 15 year old Alex Keyse headed to Shanklin Theatre to review ‘Sh*t Faced Shakespeare’ for Brave Island. Under 25 and looking for free tickets and training? Sign up to Brave Island for new opportunities every week.
A title like “Sh’t Faced Shakespeare – Romeo and Juliet”, gives you a vague idea of what this show is going to be about, and I was really curious to see myself what types of twists there were in store and how the audience would react.
The show playfully combines a mix of professionally trained actors, performing one of the greatest love stories and famous plays of all times, all doused with a good dose of alcohol. Certainly a bold experiment!
From my interview I gather that no two shows are the same and that the cast rotates, and so does the designated character who will “sacrifice” him or herself to take this experiment further. All to the joy of a rather rowdy audience, some members of which, during the performance I watched, decided to embrace the spirit of the show to the full, thus themselves being under the influence! What can go wrong?
My review is therefore based on the one-of-a-kind performance I watched, but I am sure that, although every show is unique, they are all equally entertaining and full of humorous moments.
The play started with a sort of “moderator” inciting the audience while explaining the essence of the show and giving two spectators the power to require the designated actor to drink more when showing signs of sobering up. The plot thickens!
The show started with what looked like a very good and faithful rendition of the original classic, with well designed costumes and sticking to the script. Only some naughty graffiti on the walls of the scenography will hint to the fact that this is no ordinary play of the famous tragedy but rather a daring adaptation.
As the performance went on it quite soon became apparent that, despite all of her efforts to remember her lines, Juliet was the drunken cast member that evening. She was absolutely marvellous in her attempts to look composed and what I really enjoyed is that even when she completely deviated from the plot, the rest of the cast did their best to continue to “act” as normal. I shall not spoil the unpredictable developments of the story but all I can tell you is that it was absolutely hilarious. I was surrounded by people giggling, laughing aloud and generally having a great time.
The original crew came up with this ingenious format when at university about a decade ago. The setup for the show has been so successful that they have been able to export it across the pond, where you can watch “A midnight’s summer dream” in Boston these days. The music is well thought out too, with classically played versions of modern hits.
All in all I believe this to be a very successful way to revive the classics, and I highly recommend it to anyone with the right approach to famous stories being rewritten and slightly messed with, who can tolerate some alcohol-induced hiccups and wants to spend a couple of very enjoyable hours. If you happen to be studying one of these plays for your English GCSE, this will certainly help you remember it.