There is something fascinating about Shakespeare that draws us back to theatres to see re-interpretations of his plays. He is a great example of Horace’s Exegi Monumentum – his monument became a cultural phenomenon, with contemporary artists still finding inspiration in his work. 

In the Magnificent Bastard Productions’ version of the bard’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, however, there is another draw for audiences: drunk actors. Samuel Pepys called the original “the most insipid ridiculous play that I ever saw in my life,” and alcohol is unlikely to remedy this.

What might happen if you stray into the woods at night? Well, you can meet fabulous creatures, fall in or out of love with someone. Eventually, you can become a donkey. 

The play has it all. There is a marriage, adventures of tragic lovers, magic and most importantly – alcohol. One person from the cast is picked at random to drink a few hours before every show. Cast the first stone if you’ve never wanted to see drunk actors on stage.

“There is no way of knowing what’s going to happen. We take whatever the drunks brain comes up with and try to weave it into the story” says publicist Claire Hoyda. 

Drunk people are unpredictable at the best of times. So drunk people playing Shakespeare can be either a disaster or a masterpiece. It is probably not a good idea to declare Hamlet’s monologue on a night out with friends, but on stage everything changes and that’s why it is so exciting. 

At first, Sh*t-faced Shakespeare was a loose idea and it was quickly dismissed. “The creators of the show Lewis Ironside and Chris Snelson were programming 24hrs of content for their theatre tent at Secret Garden Party” says Hoyda, referring to the now defunct arts and musical festival.

After a while, though, they began to see its potential and now it is an award-winning and internationally acclaimed play. 

“We rehearse and produce a completely normal Shakespeare play, it’s only when we throw a drunk into the works that chaos begins. I think the audience gets a raucously fun night out while getting to see a Shakespeare classic in a new light,” the cast says.

Prepare. Sh*t-faced Shakespeare: A Midsummer’s Night Dream is coming and you can be sure that after this performance you will not look at Shakespeare’s plays in the same way.

Sh*t-Faced Shakespeare: A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be performed at the Octagon Centre on Friday 8 November. 

Featured Image: Sh*t-Faced Shakespeare

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