Shit-faced Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet ****

Comedy (theatre, farce)

Underbelly, George Square (Venue 300).

22:15. 10th-28th August (sold out on 12th). 

The name says it all. If you like the idea of classically-trained actors attempting to recite Shakespeare while one member of the cast becomes increasingly intoxicated, this is the show for you, although perhaps you should be asking yourself why. The players’ valiant attempts to advance the plot in the face of their colleague’s ever-bawdier antics provide no shortage of comic entertainment. In a few noteworthy hijinks, drunken Juliet – spurred on by a vocally sympathetic audience – rechristens Romeo ‘Malcolm’, attempts to seduce her nurse, and accuses a bewildered Friar Lawrence of pedastry. It’s uproariously funny – if anything, too much so, as the grandiosity of Juliet’s adventures (and the all-too-effective comedic timing of her fellow actors’ corresponding adlibs) beg the question as to whether alcohol and improvisation (or – as sometimes seems more likely – careful writing and rehearsal) are the real driving forces behind the show. Whatever the authenticity of its eponymous ‘shit-facedness’, the show is a definite crowd-pleaser. Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect is the cast’s willingness to engage with spectators. The few hecklers in attendance get as good as they give, and everyone in the front row – the affectionately named ‘vom zone’ owing to its proximity to Juliet – gets to directly participate in the action. Ultimately, although it displays no great fidelity to either the booze or the bard, Shit-faced Shakespeare is a well-acted performance that left me feeling happy and entertained. If you’re in the mood for semi-extemporized cabaret comedy with Elizabethan overtones and a guaranteed happy ending in spite of its own script, pre-drink with some friends and bring them along for what will almost certainly be a good time. 

Jo Harrison