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The Mass Media

Shitfaced Shakespeare: The Perfect Sh*t-Show

A+snip-it+of+the+silliness+on+set+of+A+Midsummer+Nights+Dream

A snip-it of the silliness on set of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”

Four Shakespearean actors walk into a bar… No, this isn’t a terrible joke, but rather a typical night for the performers of the comedic gold that is Shitfaced Shakespeare. The concept is simple: the group of seasoned Shakespearean professionals get sloshed and attempt to put on an unforgettable performance of one of Shakespeare’s most notable plays. While the night’s performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” was giggly and most definitely boozy, truth be told, it was not necessarily true to its advertising.
The very idea of Shitfaced Shakespeare sparks some kind of expectation as to how on earth one could perform a monologue in early English and pause in between their lines just to take an ice cold sip of Coors Light. Some of these expectations would be, oh, I don’t know, that everyone on stage would be unbearably drunk, slurring lines and stumbling about with a half drunk bottle of one liquor or another clutched in an unsteady grip. But the reality of the show is a lot less “bachelor-party-in-Vegas” and a lot more… Safe.
The truth is, there are rules to Shitfaced Shakespeare. Very amusing rules, but rules nonetheless. The MC, clad in skin-tight leggings and a sparkling top-hat, was kind enough to fill the audience in on these rules as well as their roles in what is probably the most interactive form of Shakespeare there’s ever been. Two lucky, and one unfortunate, audience members were given props of a horn, a gong, and a bucket:
“If at any point you feel that our actors are in danger…of sobering up…I want you to blow [the horn] and bang [the gong] and I will come and give them one more drink,” the MC explained. “And now all that leaves is the bucket… I think you all know what that’s for.”
While the promotion of more alcohol consumption, after the cast supposedly drank half a bottle of what looked like vodka, seems dangerous, the truth is that it was all pretty much party proof from that point on: only one of the cast members would actually be drinking on stage, and the drink of choice was a beer, as opposed to the hard liquor used to pregame before the show. The character forced to drink on this specific evening was Helena, and the more she drank the more her lines sounded like the backwards snapchat filter. The performance itself, with Helena’s drunken state, very quickly became a game of “spot the drunk” and left the MC to be her babysitter for the evening.
Despite all that could possibly go wrong when adding alcohol to Shakespeare, the performance itself never suffered. In fact, a lot was actually added to it instead. Shakespeare can be a bit difficult to decipher, but when all the actors are drunk and without inhibitions, they’re willing to add little helpful comments. Puck, the most flamboyant character of the evening and essentially the one who stole the show with his wit and sarcasm, had very blatantly disclosed what would and would not be a detail worth paying attention to after giving his opening monologue. He held up his one prop, a little purple flower, looked straight into the audience and screamed, as if we didn’t already know vis a vis his opening lines, that “THIS FLOWER IS GOING TO BE REALLY F***ING IMPORTANT!”
The entire performance, with its lack of inhibition, its hilarious ad-libbing, and its surplus in alcohol, was a perfect example of a sh*t show. But even then, it was a great evening filled with laughs and liquor, and if anything went wrong, well, there was a bucket ready for clean-up.