William Shakespeare has been kind enough to leave behind a plethora of quotes about drinking. Which is how Sh!tfaced Shakespeare’s adaptation of Romeo and Juliet brings new life into this well-known tragedy, making it incredibly accessible and fun, in a relatively anarchist-like fashion.
A riot of a show
The rules are simple: one of the cast members drinks their alcohol of choice before the show begins, and over the course of the show, they may be given additional drinks by audience members if it appears like they are sobering up. An audience member is also given a bucket in case said actor feels sick. The emphasis is a little more on the drinking than Shakespeare, but that only increases the unpredictability and joviality of the show. A relatively faithful adaptation that takes a few unexpected twists and turns, but mostly due to the nature of the drunk actor onstage.
The cast take Romeo and Juliet to the extremes, revelling in the crudeness and humour of the language, despite the traditionally tragic nature of the play. Although sometimes the euphemism borders on cheap explicitness, most of the off-script banter is clever. The way that the cast bounce and play off of one another solidifies the production’s reputation. Richard Hughes' portrayal of Romeo swung between trying to remain faithful to the script and character, whilst maintaining a surprising amount of self-awareness. Starting out as a rather silly drunk actor and ending up as a full-blown chaotic force refusing to succumb to his fate, Hughes manages to break all boundaries and assumptions associated with the character of Romeo. In fact, there is no hint of the tragic figure that Romeo is traditionally thought to be. Hughes' grumblings about other characters as they try to move the plot along are some of the funniest asides in the play.
A riot of a show, the back and forth bantering between actors and audience allows for a very pleasant night out on the town. Whilst relatively formulaic, the deviations from script bring new life into the most well-known tragedy.