We’ll say this right away – this production of Much Ado About Nothing is rather unconventional, and definitely not one for Shakespeare purists. But that’s not the point – while the story at its core is still recognisably the bard’s comedy, it’s been changed in such a way that it will be accessible to the average punter looking for a fun evening of entertainment as opposed to a traditional rendition.
Sh!t-faced Shakespeare have been around for some time, but for those unfamiliar with the concept, they’re a troupe of professional actors who take on a different Shakespeare play each season (we’ve previously caught their Romeo and Juliet). Each night – and they take it in turns – one of the actors has a few drinks pre-show; not enough to completely derail proceedings, but sufficient so that they start slipping lines and have to improvise, and generally be a bit messy throughout. Cue two hours of silliness loosely based on the story and characters of Much Ado About Nothing.
Our drunk for the evening on press night was Flora Sowerby in the role of Beatrice, who deployed some choice coarse language, disappeared into the audience at one point and made countless lewd innuendos about the male actors’ codpieces. The show has a compere – Beth-Louise Priestly – who keeps an eye on proceedings to ensure that nothing is dangerous for the actors or the audience, and who has a couple of emergency beers on hand just in case our actor shows signs of sobering up. There’s a little bit of audience participation, and shouting and cheering is actively encouraged – it can be a lot of fun.
While we’re fans of unusual and unconventional ways of updating and modernising Shakespeare to make the text more accessible for today’s audience, this won’t be for everyone. The atmosphere at the Leicester Square Theatre is much more akin to a boozy night out than you might expect going to see a play, and it does tap into an aspect of British culture that some will feel uncomfortable with. It’s silly, it’s sweary, it’s loud, it’s brash – if that sounds like something for you then pick up a ticket, there’s nothing else really quite like it.
GAY TIMES gives Sh!t-faced Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing – 3/5
More information can be found here.