The Bottle and the Bard: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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Lane Russell's picture

U.K. sellout show “Shit-faced Shakespeare” comes to Cambridge

Thursday and Friday nights in the intimate Davis Square Theatre and now Saturday nights at OBERON, the brainchild of British theater company Magnificent Bastard Productions comes to life: “Shit-faced Shakespeare.” 

Originally started in London in 2010, “Shit-faced Shakespeare” is “the deeply highbrow fusion of an entirely serious Shakespeare play with an entirely shit-faced cast member,” their website (magnificentbastard.co.uk) states.

“It is a fully-realized production of a Shakespeare play [A Midsummer Night’s Dream] … and then before the show, one of the actors gets drunk. It turns into this massive improv game,” said Sylvia Sword, who plays Helena in the show’s US debut.

Though sitting through a Shakespeare play may seem dull to some, the Shit-faced Shakespeare production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is cut down to a more digestible length. Only one of the original plays three plot lines is followed, making it more accessible to the varying crowds.

“Go even if you don’t like Shakespeare,” Sword said. “It is really for everyone, and everyone has a great time.”

“One of my favorite parts is how much of a young audience the show draws. I never ever in my career have seen this many young people in the audience at a Shakespeare show,” said Liz Hartford, who plays Hermia. “So that’s pretty amazing.”

The show has quite a bit of audience participation, and it is important to know that if you sit in the front row, you will get played with.

“If you don’t want to be in the play, don’t sit in the front row – but you’re in for a fun time if you do,” warned Sword.

At the start of the show, the compere (a host or emcee) hands out three objects: a gong, a bugle and a bucket. The gong and the bugle are to be struck and blown when the audience member thinks the drunk actor needs “one more drink.” The audience member with the bucket is in charge of running up to the drunk if they are going to be sick, though the U.S. production of the show has yet to need it.

Shit-faced Shakespeare, a sellout show at both the Fringe Festival and Brighton Fringe Festival in the U.K., is a production that brings together all types of people to celebrate Shakespeare.

“People who like to have a good time and like to laugh will enjoy it even if they hate Shakespeare,” said Hartford. “I think they’ll go away liking it and appreciating it, and being surprised that it can be so funny and done in such a nontraditional manner.”

“Shit-faced Shakespeare” will be playing every Saturday through the end of August, starting July 11 at the Oberon, 2 Arrow Street in Cambridge, and will continue to play in Davis Square Theatre. Further information about the show, including age restrictions and ticket sales, can be found at shit-facedshakespeare.com.