Presented by alist.com.au
Reviewed 16 February 2020
Ladies and gentlefolk of the Adelaide Fringe, come gather ye’ round for another year of the hit comedy, Shit-Faced Shakespeare, where, as in ye olde’ times, the drunk is the centre of comedic attention, but this time, they’re centre stage!
After sell-out shows at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019, Shit-Faced Shakespeare is once again bringing their alcoholic breath and beer-stained costumes back to the Adelaide Fringe for 2020. This year they are taking on what is arguably Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy and most serious storyline, Hamlet. A quick summary for those who are unfamiliar: Hamlet sees the ghost of his dead father, the King of Denmark, who tells him to avenge his murder by killing the new king, Hamlet’s uncle. Hamlet feigns madness, contemplates life and death, has a romance and seeks revenge.
As in previous successful years, before the show one cast member is chosen at random to become inebriated and the audience has no idea who until their alcoholic mess appears on-stage in front of the live audience. This also means that you could witness a Shit-Faced Shakespeare performance of Hamlet one night and then an almost completely different one the next – no two nights are the same!
The best part of the show is that the audience gets to witness the chaos that ensues thanks to the humorous and completely unpredictable drunk actor. One minute they’re totally distracted by small, un-impotrant things, such as the glowing exit sign, and the next they’re dramatically throwing flowers at other actors in a fit of anger, or even dropping their full cup of beer in response to a fictional death. New additions to the script may also find their way in thanks to the drunk’s imagination such as the Harry Potter book series, the game Hungry Hippos, songs from The Lion King and a LOT of dramatic swear words, and sometimes their speech is simply a slurring and un-intelligible mess. Thank God they have a minder to keep things moving along in the narrative as, in some cases, a drunk person may humorously choose not to leave when it’s their character’s exit (remember the last time you tried to coax your drunk friend away from another beer – it’s not easy).
For the rest of the (sober) cast, much of their acting is re-acting and continuing with the script while accommodating whatever the drunkard throws at them (which can be almost anything, including physical objects). Clever improvisation is key for this production’s premise to work and the cast are fantastic at it, making it a must-see and resulting in bizarrely humorous situations like Hamlet coaxing his friend Horatio off his back with a pleading, “disembark from my body”.
The set helps place the audience in the famous Elsinor castle of young Prince Hamlet of Denmark with a background sporting the interior of a gothic castle paired with royal red chairs upon the stage. The actors are all dressed in ridiculous ye’ olde’ costumes with bulging pantaloons, tight stockings, regal robes and peasant blouses as far as the eye can see.
Witnessing the fun that is Shit-Faced Shakespeare is simply part of the Fringe experience which everyone should have at least once. It’s truly a unique barrel of drunken, ye’ olde’ fun that Shakespeare himself would probably have loved!
Reviewed by Georgina Smerd
Rating out of 5: 5 Drunken fun
Venue: The May Wirth at Gluttony – Rymill Park, Rymill Park/Mullawirraburka,
Corner of East Terrace and Rundle Rd, Adelaide, SA, 5000
Season: 15 February – 15 March 2020
Duration: 60 mins
Tickets: $26.92 – $34.90