Presented by Magnificent Bastard Productions
Written by William Shakespeare (possibly)
Produced by Magnificent Bastard Productions
October 14 through November 25, 2017
The Rockwell ↭ Davis Square Theatre
255 Elm Street, Somerville, MA 02144
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Review by Bishop C. Knight
* WARNING: nudity, inebriation, and foul language
(Somerville, Massachusetts) Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare has ruined me. No, I did not become an alcoholic after attending their performance of The Taming of the Shrew. However, I now require theatre experiences where the cast enjoys themselves as much as the audience. The easygoing actors began the evening with basically a stand-up routine that had absolutely nothing to do with English theatre, but we the patrons loved this opening act, and I am pretty sure William Shakespeare himself would have loved it too.
The Rockwell is an intimate venue, and the playfulness pervading this small theater amped up when a blowing horn was given to a random audience member who sheepishly admitted, “I can’t blow.” Wrong thing to say to a drunken comedian, who promptly yelped “You cannot blooooooooooow me? (aghast) Well, try. (wonderfully improper)” Yes, you not only should be loose while attending this show, but you should also enjoy sexual innuendo. There is a lot of it.
The male actors wore small j-shaped pillows that looked like lush willies and, maybe my favorite part, an actress sat and sang a scale while simultaneously enjoying an orgasm from her lover hiding under the table. It was fantastic. Imagine the When Harry Met Sally diner scene, but Sally singing her pleasure.
Perhaps the most stunning jolt was being mooned. I’d never been mooned, and I suspect many other eyes in the audience had also been innocent, because first there was a momentary silence before an uproar of shocked and tickled surprise. Committed to irreverence, the actor’s pants stayed down for a few minutes.
After the show I attended, I overheard a guy explaining how before each performance, the cast randomly picks the name of a performer who will be completely sloshed throughout the entire show. On my night, the drunk actor was playing the character Petruchio (who is the male protagonist seeking fortune by first wooing and then marrying the wealthy Kate). Shakespeare intended for Petruchio to be rude, lewd, and performed with great exaggeration — and so it was! Petruchio’s drunken actor captivated the crowd by threading in a contemporary brand of brash Boston humor. There were perfectly timed ruptures of the fourth wall, when he’d look at the audience and slur out an explanation of what was happening with Forrest Gump simplicity — “I am torturing a servant,” or “I got my eye on her [Kate].” Nobody that inebriated is torturing anyone but themselves, and this was the impeccable and ironic humor of such moments. These were the moments I heard patrons promptly memorializing as we exited The Rockwell, “Remember when Petruchio…?”
If these shenanigans are your thing, I can promise that you will walk out of The Rockwell absolutely amused and red-cheeked from laughing nonstop at this uproarious one-hour performance. You and fellow patrons will be smiling while already recounting “Remember when…?” highlights from the night’s comedy.
Now, these shenanigans may not be your thing. You may be a serious person who prefers Shakespeare sixteenth-century style, or the performance at The Rockwell may seem disrespectful to your sense of propriety and morality. If this is the case, I would still recommend the play because sprinkled throughout the performance were momentary interludes when an actor would pause to soberly preach a quick axiom. For example, once happily married to Kate, Petruchio’s drucken actor stepped out of character to solemnly tell the audience that one should stick by their man until the very end. And really, who doesn’t want to love and live with their sweetie pie until their last dying day? The Harvey Weinstein scandal was even mentioned, and there were a few brief dialogues about consent. So no matter how debauched and depraved the actor’s mischief become, the entire evening remained moored in the truisms of 2017. If anything, the actors poked fun at the play’s antiquated tropes precisely because this is a performance set in our society — which is working so damn hard to provide equal opportunity to everyone.
Many Shakespeare plays end with exeunt, but that would not reflect the low-key, fun, and jocular energy of last night’s performance. Instead, I raise my beer can to you and suggest “get the fuck out of here.” And see Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare!!!!
We elected a thin-skinned Nazi to the office of the President who is turning our “democracy” into a fascist, totalitarian oligarchy dominated by the 1%. Trump is a monster. His policies, when he names them, are destructive. His narcissistic behavior is more so.
Congressional “negotiators” released a spending bill that saves the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for Humanities, and National Public Radio until September at which time, the President and his impotent cronies may still cut arts funding. It is ever important to remain vigilant. And, for the love of all that’s sacred, keep creating. If you need help, ask for it. Our existence is our resistance. May the force be with you. – KD