Shit-Faced Shakespeare: Hamlet

If you haven’t already heard of this band of bawdy, Bardy performers, it prompts the question, “Is this your first time to the Fringe?” If the answer is yes - what have you been doing with your life every August up until now? However, now that you’re here and you’ve seen the proverbial light, let me fill you in on what this Shakespearean company is all about.

It’s ribald, riotous and utterly rambunctious

The Shit-faced team are a talented troupe of actors (from Magnificent Bastard Productions) who reproduce a Shakespearean classic and add a splash of creativity (and Vodka, Gin, Beer or Sauvignon Blanc) to the mix. Yes, during the day, one of the cast pulls the short straw and has to drink their preferred tipple in the hours leading up to the show. Hamlet is the chosen play of Fringe 2018. As this is not known to be one of Will’s wittiest, I pondered how the addition of an inebriated thespian (all the actors are classically trained) would impact the play’s dark narrative. Was this to be, or not to be, a good idea? The answer was – more or less – yes.

The set begins with our top-hatted compère wheeling in a trolley brimming with booze, pointing out the half-empty bottle of gin that had already been consumed by Queen Gertrude (last night’s holder of the short straw). The trolley is also furnished with the intended bevies that Gertrude will continue to be plied with for the duration of the show – oh yes, the drinking continues throughout the next hour. And then the Queen bursts, or rather staggers, onto the scene and slumps herself upon her throne, her crown at a jaunty angle. The tale of something being rotten in Denmark then ensues. The next hour is a raucous balancing act between a loose-Hamlet narrative and a damage limitation exercise, with the other actors rescuing lines, shoes and generally attempting to keep the tale on track. There are some nice variations on the original tragedy including a Polonia (rather than Polonius) and Ophelia’s, hitherto unknown, love of roller coasters. Props such as a bucket, a horn, a gong and a member of the audience are provided by the Master of Ceremonies to add to the humour of the proceedings.

This is the fourth time I’ve seen a production by Magnificent Bastard, using their shit-faced framework so, for me, some of the enjoyment of originality is lost. I suppose another concern of this formula could be is it too contrived. But all-in-all, in my view, this show never fails to delight. It’s ribald, riotous and utterly rambunctious and if you add it to your late-night itinerary it won’t disappoint.

Reviews by Jane Beeston

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The Blurb

The legendary Fringe hit is back again with their biggest shit-faced show to date: Hamlet. This hilarious, sell-out, award-winning, smash-hit show has already sold over 250,000 tickets worldwide and is back once more to help you "enjoy Shakespeare responsibly". Featuring a cast of professional Shakespearian actors and a single, randomly selected drunk performer every night, no two shows are ever the same. Warning, this show may contain swearing, nudity, simulated acts of a sexual nature, terrible singing, actual acts of a sexual nature, moist moments and – possibly – some actual Shakespeare. What could possibly go wrong?