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Sh*t-Faced Shakespeare offers exactly what its name implies: a serious presentation of the Bard’s plays except for one cast member who’s off their head. The result is madcap improvisation followed by fits of laughter all around – from the tipsy trouper, the sober thespians and the audience.
Appearing at Leicester Square Theatre, Sh*t-Faced Shakespeare is currently putting on Much Ado About Nothing. True to William Shakespeare’s romantic comedy, their shortened version focuses on two couples – Claudio and Hero and Beatrice and Benedick. The first pair are torn apart and then reunited, while the second are tricked into falling in love. The main difference is the original plot doesn’t contain the alcohol-induced chaos that ensues.
A cheeky compere who’s outrageously dressed introduces the show and reveals exactly how much booze an “unidentified actor” has consumed. Furthermore, a bugle and cowbell are given to two audience members. If sounded – and it’s a sure bet they will be – that actor must knock back additional cans of beer while on stage.
Obviously, it doesn’t take long to figure out who’s sloshed. On the night we attended Beth-Louise Priestley was sh*t-faced in the role of Beatrice. A good-natured drunk, she kept us in stitches as she staggered on and off stage slurring her lines. Priestley had trouble with her balance, often slipped into modern speak, gave quite a few shout-outs to fellow cast member “TV’s Jack Bence” and laid overly enthusiastic kisses on “my Benedick” (played by James Murfitt).
Just as much fun as seeing Priestley attempt to deliver dramatic speeches while totally pissed was watching the rest of the cast use their quick wits and imagination to deal with her antics.
Performed across the UK and also in the US, Sh*t-Faced Shakespeare has been around for seven years. With different actors imbibing each night, what happens on stage is always fresh and unpredictable, guaranteeing a good time is had by all.
Sh*t-Faced Shakespeare runs through 15 June at London’s Leicester Square Theatre. Book now at Ticketmaster.co.uk.