The Fringe might be over now, but that doesn’t mean I’ve blogged about everything I saw yet! Last week I went to see a show called Sh*t-Faced Shakespeare, which is a Shakespeare play performed with one of the actors being drunk. This year it ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona’ (plot summaries are in the programme, for those of us who aren’t Shakespeare experts) and Julia was the somewhat intoxicated character.
Overall, the show was hilarious, as drunken antics are nearly always pretty amusing. At times, it did feel as though the levels of intoxication were being exaggerated or put on a bit, but given the nature of the performance, this is pretty necessary in order to ensure a good show. I liked that Julia’s microphone was left on even when she was off-stage, as she provided some very funny commentary during other scenes. Of course, when one actor is not performing the play correctly, the others have to respond to this. I liked that they acknowledged and played upon her drunkenness, adding in extra lines and comments, rather than ploughing on regardless of it. While it is a scripted play, there is a small amount of improv required when dealing with an actor who continually goes off-book, and the play has to be condensed to keep it within an hour’s length, and the rest of the cast cope pretty well with all of this.
There could be some health and safety concerns in a show like this, but they are addressed early on to waylay any worries. There is someone on hand to monitor and control the drunk actor, stepping in at times to prevent her from going too far. However, this same person is also responsible for giving her more drinks, when an audience member sounds one of their designated props (two are handed out at the start). I liked this idea, as it means the other actors aren’t having to control the drunk one, and this person adds some more humour of her own.
While the same play is performed every night, the show is different each time, as different characters are chosen to get drunk, and their behaviour will be different every time, making it very possible to go more than once without getting tired of repetition. There is clearly a lot of skill involved in this production – it’s not as easy as just getting drunk! – and the end result is highly entertaining. It probably won’t be for everyone – Shakespeare buffs beware! – but I had a very enjoyable night.