Well, that was different!
Sh!tfaced Shakespeare have been entertaining audiences since 2010 with its simple and yet possibly unique formula. A small classically trained cast performs a highly abridged version of a well known Shakespearian classic. In this case ‘Much Ado About Nothing’. The twist is one of the cast members (a different one each night) supposedly drinks solidly for 4 hours before the curtain rises and performs his or her role completely inebriated, cussing, interacting with the audience and being wholly disruptive whilst the other cast members carry on the best they can.
There is no doubt that the format is popular, the audience enjoyed it immensely, several claiming they were on a return visit. The actor is plied with more alcohol during the show and there is plenty of opportunity for the audience to drink as well, with Leicester Square Theatre having three well manned bars for an intimate 400 seat theatre. What ensues is a chaotic and revelrous night out.
The cast revolve each night so each cast member is well versed in several roles.
A different cast member gets drunk each night so no two shows are the same.
Members of the audience can decide if the drunk player is sobering up and choose when to make them have another drink.
Our compere for the night was Beth-Louise Priestley, who tells the audience what to expect and tries to keep order when things go awry. She also explains that before the show started, Flora Sowerby playing Beatrice, was the nominated Sh!t-faced actress for the evening and in the name of art had already downed a bottle of wine and a bottle of Champers. Other cast members were the star crossed lovers Hero and Claudio played by Holly Durkin and Matthew Seager, Beatrice’s love interest Benedick played by John Milton, Hero’s
father Leonado mother Leonata is played by Stacey Norris and completing the cast is Chris Lane playing the dastardly Don John.
The play was entertaining enough but at the end of the day, it was one joke played to death. Flora Sowerby as the hilarious drunk got louder and brasher as the play went on, there was a lot of shouting and even more swearing, her main objective seemed to be to deliberately sabotage the play rather than attempt to play the role whilst piddled. The rest of the cast seemed to swing between trying to perform, encouraging the chaos and spending a lot of time giggling.
I am sad to admit that I wasn’t wholly convinced about the amount of booze actually consumed, despite the chaos even the most shocking deviances from the script seemed expected or rehearsed and it was surprising how despite the drivel, everything she said it was clearly enunciated as only an actor can do, furthermore I was astounded by the dexterity needed to keep every drop of drink in her glass as she danced and slipped round the floor. Yes, I much prefer to believe that Flora Sowerby is an amazing actress who can pull off playing a drunk to a tee. Am I wrong? Damnit, I may have to make a return visit to see what is cooked up next.
What is apparent is that the audience lapped it up and didn’t care a jot, they were having a whale of a time. Even if it wasn’t my cup of tea, I can see why this show has got such a following. Maybe I am just getting old.
Anyway, off I go to drink some wine – if I end up drunk, you’ll find me in my usual place, curled up in a corner and nodding off to sleep.
Reviewer: Sammi O’Neill