Shit-faced Shakespeare is the Drunk History of the theatre. The production of A Midsummer Night's Dream is performed by a troupe of skilled actors – but one of them polished off most of a bottle of tequila before arriving onstage. Hilarity doth ensue.
This Wednesday night, it was Demetrius’ turn to down some drinks and wreak havoc upon the stage. Right from the opening dance number he stumbled his way through, the audience were laughing along; Demetrius consistently broke character, giggled, and engaged in typical drunken antics to cheers and applause.
The true highlight of the show, though, was seeing how Demetrius’ sober counterparts improvised and reacted. The actors were energetic and downright funny in their own right, and delivered 400-year-old lines in a way a modern audience could relate to. But the moments that drew the most laughs were the ad libs, where they had to manage their plastered co-star and roll with his tangents. The master of ceremonies deserves particular credit. Anyone who has ever babysat a drunk mate would appreciate the tired patience in his eyes as he mopped up spilt drinks, tried to adjust microphones, and snatched weapons from the inebriated actor’s hand.
It was a thrilling experience to sit in a crowd, many of whom may have opted to read the CliffsNotes instead when studying Shakespeare at school, which was cheering and laughing along with a Shakespeare play. The performance was probably more akin to the OG experience than a stuffy, stiff production that takes itself too seriously. The atmosphere the cast creates makes it easy to imagine that it’s 1600, and you’re at the Globe catching the latest comedy. I’m sure Will Shakespeare, who peppered even his loftiest poetry with a heavy dose of dick jokes, would approve.
This new take on A Midsummer Night’s Dream is right up there with 10 Things I Hate About You and She’s the Man. The cast were fun, funny and quick-witted, and definitely put the bar back in the Bard. The course of the play never did run smooth – but that’s the fun of it.
Shit-faced Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream plays until the close of Fringe at Gluttony. You can purchase tickets here.