Wednesday, 27 June 2018

REVIEW: Sh*tfaced Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet at the Leicester Square Theatre

For anyone who is unfamiliar with the concept of Sh*tfaced Shakespeare, it’s really quite simple. In a company of five actors, one is chosen at random before the evening’s performance to get outrageously drunk before taking to the stage. Sh*tfaced Shakespeare declare in any given week, no performer is ever asked to drink on consecutive nights. In addition they are never required to drink more than four times in the course of one month. (They proudly acknowledge that this means they are the probably most sober cast of performers in the West End!) It’s then up to the talented cast of actors surrounding the one drunk performer to try and keep the show running as smoothly as possible. At the Press Night for Romeo and Juliet, it was Beth-Louise Priestley’s ‘Juliet’ who had taken to the gin and lager and little too hard before curtain up. 

Can we be at all surprised with the concept like this that the show did not run smoothly? Juliet forgot to call her beau Romeo, but instead referred to him as Richard (the actor’s name) throughout the show. She wobbled atop her balcony and leant over the edges so brashly, my heart almost stopped. She licked people’s noses. She wrestled with curtains. She spat out her drink laughing at her costars jokes. She was also flagged down by the compère for “dangerous behaviour” and had her dagger taken from her and was instead handed a large stuffed toy snake (which she proceeded to use to re-enact Britney Spears’ iconic “I’m A Slave For U” performance. As the show was beginning to come to the dramatic close, she sprung up from bed to declare “I’m not dead yet!” and skipped off the stage...! 

Safe to say, I’ve never seen anything quite like it!

There is something very similar to Mischief Theatre Company shows that is presented by Sh*tfaced Shakespeare. The chaos of the production is wonderful and makes for real fun; the difference is that Mischief Theatre have planned their shenanigans ahead of time while Sh*tfaced Shakespeare are making things up as they go along. The corpsing and improv to be seen is very genuine and the atmosphere in the intimate Leicester Square Theatre reflected that. A very giddy audience who were willing to participate and were all up for a good laugh, many of whom were proud to have been back several times to see the show. I suppose with a drunk actor chosen at random, no two shows will ever be the same.

The stage is cosy and the set is virtually nonexistent other than a few reutilised prop pieces. Costumes are not exactly high-brow but the audience is not there for production value - they’re there to have a good laugh and that’s exact what happened. 

This was undoubtedly the worst production of Romeo an Juliet I have ever seen.
Bill the Bard would be turning in his grave if he knew what was happening to his work, but as night’s out go, this one’s a knockout. It’s a perfect date night or excuse to gather your pals together to have a great night of belly laughs and naughtiness. Tickets are an absolute steal and if you have any sense of humour at all, you’ll love this show.

Appauling Shakespeare but a bloody brilliant night out. 

Review by Harriet Langdown 

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: E27 Stalls | Price of Ticket: £21.50

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