Scaping the Serpent’s Tongue: “Shit-Faced Shakespeare”

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Photo care of Magnificent Bastard Productions

Photo care of Magnificent Bastard Productions

Presented by Magnificent Bastard Productions
Produced by Gabriel Kuttner and Daniel Berger-Jones in association with Cambridge Historical Tours

April 15 – May 1, 2015
Davis Square Theatre
255 Elm Street Somerville
Magnificent Bastards on Facebook

Review by Danielle Rosvally

(Somerville, MA) Everybody’s got that one friend. That friend who goes to a party (…or the bar, or any function where booze is readily available), has a bit too much, turns absolutely hilarious, but then the real conundrum begins: who is going to take care of “that friend”? John did it last time (to great disaster for the interior of John’s car); Sally isn’t much of a caregiver and would probably have “that friend” weeping openly on the floor of the bathroom in about ten minutes flat; and Bob doesn’t care for “that friend”. That just leaves you. Congratulations, you’ve now been saddled with the responsibility of taking care of this adult/child because “that friend” (as usual) couldn’t be bothered to know their own limits (despite the fact that you’ve been out of college for ten years now and shouldn’t “that friend” know better?). Suddenly, what was once a fun and exciting party is a tiresome (and stressful) burden.

Luckily, Shit-Faced Shakespeare requires absolutely no responsibility from you. Show up, kick back with a drink from the bar, and prepare to be amused at some drunk girl’s antics for an hour when you don’t even have to clean up after her (…unless you’re stuck holding the bucket… don’t get stuck holding the bucket).

It’s not “Shakespeare” per say, but rather a social experiment in what would happen if a wide-eyed group of quasi-professionals got their hands on some costumes in a bag, a heavily cut script of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and a case of Yeungling. One of the show’s five actors has, before opening curtain, gotten absolutely blasted but (alas) the show must go on. The rest is a demonstration in what can happen when a strong group of performers rolls with the Shakespearean punches.

A sense of humor is a must for this show; and don’t sit in the front row unless you’re willing to be part of the action (….or potentially assaulted).

This is one case in which I recommend that you don’t bone up on your Shakespeare before you go. While the play functions around the basic plot elements of one sub-plot of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Shakespeare aficionados are more likely to find themselves frustrated than satisfied. The shtick is funny, but only if you’re willing to let go of the notion that you’re there to see a Shakespearean production. This comes with the territory of inherent risk taken on by getting an actor blasted and putting them onstage. While I was entertained, amused, and titillated by the exploits and misadventures of the actors before me, I was also often tempted to leap from my seat and finish the soliloquy my own damn self when the poor drunken actress was floundering for her line. This reaction, born of a lifetime in the theatre and far too long spent with my nose in the Bard, is probably not one shared by most “normal” audience members; but it is the reason why I would not recommend going out of your way to study for this show. If you arrive at the theatre looking to enjoy drunken exploits and Shakespeare-flavored improve, you will not be disappointed.

With a pithy one-hour runtime, this show is a good option for those who would love to see some theatrical stimuli, but would rather not commit to an entire evening at the theatre. The venue is intimate and friendly, and afterwards you can saunter over to Saloon and enjoy the best prohibition cocktails that Somerville has to offer. So go get shit-faced…. With Shakespeare!

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