Some might argue that tackling Hamlet is a task best left to those who aren’t in danger of spilling their beer mid-monologue. If you’re looking for a performance free of dirty jokes, foul language, and sexual references you won’t find it at Shit-Faced Shakespeare. Instead, you’ll find a drunken cast member set loose for the specific purpose of derailing the Prince of Denmark’s search for vengeance with a little mischief.
This, of course, results in a keg load of hilarious unpredictability, showcasing the comedic brilliance and improvisational skills of both the drunk performer and the sober cast members, who must operate around the version of Hamlet the drunk cast member brings to life through a combination of actual Shakespeare and complete spit-balling.
The performance I attended featured a shit-faced Hamlet (played by James Murfitt), whose inebriated state resulted in a dramatic romantic sub-plot between Hamlet and Laertes, the discovery of previously unearthed father and son issues between the dead king’s ghost and the prince, a brief chance for Ophelia to be an independent woman, and perhaps most surprisingly for one of Shakespeare’s tragedies, a happily ever after.
Despite the unpredictability of the sub-plots, the entire production operates like a well-oiled machine and any drunken detours taken toward jokes gone too far, or tangents carried on for too long, are quickly redirected by the sober cast, as well as the use of an air horn. The danger of the performer sobering up is likewise combated with a little audience participation, most of which is best left as a surprise.
So, if you don’t mind a little foul-mouthing and spilled beer, and if you’re looking for a show filled with an hour of riotous non-stop laughter, drunken shenanigans, a somewhat familiar story and a cast that’s having as much fun as the audience, then stop, and look no further; you’ll find it all in Shit-Faced Shakespeare.
4.5 / 5 stars
Words by Rachael Stapleton
Shit-Faced Shakespeare: Hamlet is running until March 15
For more information and to purchase tickets click here