William Shakespeare – the man gave us countless plays, expressions and conspiracy theories. This year marks 400 years since the Bard’s death, and what better way to celebrate his work than watching one of his greatest comedies performed by actors who are completely off their face?
I should perhaps clarify; the entire cast are not drunk, each night one actor is compelled to get utterly blotto and then perform some of the greatest words ever written. The company has won multiple awards at the Edinburgh and Brighton Fridge festivals, and their current run of A Midsummer Night’s Dream certainly does not disappoint.
A quick plot summary. Hermia and Lysander want to get hitched but she is already betrothed to Demetrius, who Helena is desperate to have a thing with. Hermia and Lysander decide to hop off to the Shakespearean equivalent of Las Vegas but Demetrius catches wind of the plot, thanks to Helena. However Puck, the magical scamp that he is, gets involved and uses some flower power to try and ensure everyone falls in love with who they are supposed to. Sadly, things don’t go to plan because… then the play would be very dull.
The intimate setting of the Leicester Square Theatre provides the perfect venue for such a show. Seated, with a drink in hand, we were greeted to our compère for the evening, a man who possessed possibly the tightest and shiniest leggings known to man. He gave one audience members the immense privilege of forcing an already severely smashed actor to have another drink, and gave another the unenviable task of being in charge of the bucket. Once the premise of the show had been suitably explained we were whooshed into a dance scene where it quickly became apparent which actor had drawn the short straw that evening.
One of the most charming qualities of this production is that your experience as an audience member feels quite unique. Each evening will produce a new mix of drunken hilarity. We were treated to the inebriated performance of Saul Marron as Lysander who substituted a flower for a banana, became increasingly annoyed at his period costume, and debated important plot points of The Karate Kid.
The rest of the cast work well together, quickly hopping from thespian to carer and back again. In particular, David Ellis’ performance as Puck, and his interactions with the audience, were especially impressive. Director Lewis Ironside should also be congratulated for the re-working of Shakespeare’s original work. All key aspects of the play were included, in a time frame which allowed the tipsy actor of the evening to be the cause of laughter rather than concern.
If you’re looking for a way to appear cultured and highbrow whilst crying with laughter, this is a show not to be missed. That should hopefully justify the amount of time I spent finding ‘drunk’ synonyms.
Sh*t-faced Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream is playing at the Leicester Square Theatre until 27th August 2016.
Tickets available here: https://leicestersquaretheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873543666/events