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BRIGHTON FRINGE: Shit-faced Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet – The Warren Main House

Reviewer: Simon Topping

This is Shakespeare with a difference. Romeo and Juliet, featuring a cast of highly professional actors, except one of the throng is merrily drunk and ready to cause havoc.

Introducing the show, the host (and minder of the inebriated) lifts the lid on what tonight’s chosen boozer has so far consumed.  The crowd are underwhelmed but it is not an insignificant amount; half a bottle of rum and a can of lager.  There must be a fine line to tread between a performance enhancing quantity and total annihilation.

Two members of the audience are given permission to band a gong when they feel the actor (who turns out to be Romeo this evening) seems to be sobering up a little.  At this point another beer has to be downed to top up the intoxication.  Worryingly for the front row, a man is placed in charge of a bucket; they are in the “vomit zone”.

We are taken through the tightly constructed highlights of Romeo and Juliet, so the audience can retain the story but revel in the disruption unfolding.  There is some wonderful sledging of Juliet in the famous balcony scene, a hilarious dancing sequence and fabulous sword fight where Tybalt appears to be killed by a children’s spongy baseball bat; Romeo having been declared unfit to wield a sword.

All the cast perform well as chaos reigns around them.  The actor playing the friar is particularly funny, as are the interactions with audience members.  Above all it is bawdy, silly fun; with an unusually happy ending.

Shit-faced Shakespeare has a gladiatorial feel about it; with braying masses and the shout of “Are you not entertained!” springing to mind.However, it is an entertaining way to subvert the bard and plays well to a full house at The Warren, in a populist way the playwright would have been proud of.

 

Reviewed 25 May 2017

 

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