Director: Stacey Norris
Reviewer: Tom Finch
Magnificent Bastards really have got the gift that keeps on giving. Sh!t-faced Shakespeare is a simple concept but the potential for laughs is huge. Six classically trained actors perform an abridged Shakespeare play and one of the actors happens to be more than a little sozzled. Cue confusion, mishaps and the ever looming presence of the on stage vomit bucket, just in case.
Back for another extended season at the Leicester Square Theatre the team present Much Ado About Nothing. On press night the audience were treated to a drunk Hero, played by Beth-Louise Priestley.
Priestley is game for a laugh and her inebriation really was very funny to witness with antics including naming one of the audience Santa and berating him for not getting her a holiday to the Maldives like she asked for. Choosing to come on stage and berate Claudio for doubting her fidelity was also a highlight.
While there is a lot of joy to be had in watching a drunk actor try, and fail to get through their scenes it does at times feel like the format is showing signs of weakness. Almost all of the scenes without the drunk actor feel underwhelming, the comedy a little forced and the story takes a back seat. Of course it’s unlikely Shakespeare purists would watch this anyway but it could be interesting if the production and its sober cast really tried to tell the story.
That said there are some funny moments that don’t involve the drunkard. The poor chap in the front row who was given the honorary role of Margaret won’t forget his trip to the theatre in a hurry.
It would be interesting to see the company try their hands at a tragedy. Perhaps the debauched antics of the drunk actor would be even funnier in contrast against Macbeth descending into madness?
Either way, this is still a great night out. The audience had a great time with plenty of jeering, heckling and laughter. Given that audiences were much more vocal in Shakespeare’s day, this could be the closest that modern theatre can get to that.
Runs until 9 September 2017 | Image: Rah Petherbridge