Shit-Faced Showtime

It’s not too likely that a straight production of The Pirates of Penzance would garner that wide an audience at the Fringe – a Gilbert and Sullivan musical isn’t the most buzz-worthy of shows at this international festival that favours the weird. What does cause the stir however is a production of Pirates of Penzance with one of its actors completely and utterly rat-arsed.

An outrageous evening which will have you dabbing tears away from laughing too hard.

The format really took off with Shit-Faced Shakespeare by the same company, and to my mind attaching this premise to a musical makes it even funnier: the potential to go wrong now extends past forgetting lines and cues to choreography, singing and (in the case of tonight’s drunkard) playing the piano. Yes, tonight we’re treated to a pissed performance from the protagonist actor himself, making the fairly bland protagonist Frederic certainly more memorable. Tonight for one night only, Frederic produces whole monologues on the subject of forgetting a line and mashes up the score with impromptu Ariana Grande. It’s completely disruptive and chaotic- yet I couldn’t help but snort and giggle as he staggered between scenes with an incredibly long-suffering cast of co-performers.

The show is dealt with suitable precaution as delivered in a pre-show spiel which makes it clear that the actors are kept from danger despite the amount of alcohol consumed. The whole opening patter feels reminiscent of a T4 segment (although with more charisma than the old T4 models presenters)- it’s fun, young and likely to get pretty zany at some point. The experience is raucous and lively, but it does prove quite precarious as a musical when the drunkard is still interrupting the Modern Major General. The experience is a physically and emotionally draining one, whether you’re in hysterics throughout or wondering what the hell is going on in the plot – I’d recommend a quick skim of the plot on Wikipedia if you’ve never seen Pirates of Penzance before.

It’s clear that Shit-Faced Showtime is not going to be everybody’s cup of tea – if you’re the designated driver in your friendship circle, odds are this will be aggravating and grating. If you like seeing a fair few mishaps in your musical theatre, however, it’s an outrageous evening which will have you dabbing tears away from laughing too hard. The cast handle the situation with a good sense of when to play up to the drunkard and when to shush him, and within the mayhem you’ll hear some really great singing solos. 

Reviews by Louise Jones

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Performances

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The Blurb

Shit-Faced Showtime is the hilarious combination of an entirely serious adaptation of The Pirates of Penzance with an entirely shit-faced cast member. With one cast member selected at random and given four hours to drink before every show, we bring you musical theatre as it was never intended to be seen. With live music, singing, dancing and sword fighting... What could go wrong? So drink up, buckle up and belt up as we take you on a voyage featuring pirates, wenches, pirate-wenches, cabin boys galore and the kind of behaviour which is probably only legal in international waters.

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