Shit-Faced Shakespeare: Macbeth at Leicester Square Theatre
What if one of the classically-trained actors performing an entirely serious Shakespeare play was entirely pissed? This is the oh-so-fantastic premise of Shit-Faced Shakespeare, who are now performing Macbeth at Leicester Square Theatre.
That’s right – this is Shakespeare, but one of the actors is sozzled. And that’s exactly as funny as it sounds. As four performers attempt to get through the Scottish play with poise and dignity, one is stumbling and slurring and joking and improvising from start to finish. In this particular performance there were quips about The Guardian, Prince Malcolm was a black belt in judo and Domino’s showed up to deliver pizza.
Beyond the drunken shenanigans, it’s actually a very well put-together show. Everything is of pretty high quality: the costumes, the props, the set, the lighting. Without the sloshed one sloshing around, it would still be a fine Shakespearean production. As it is, though, it’s elevated into a totally mad, totally hilarious, totally totalled evening.
While the attention may be primarily on the drunk (James Murfitt as Malcolm), the sober actors do a wonderful job working with his mistakes and improvisations, while trying to keep the show on track. Macbeth (John Mitton) remaining in character and trying to explain that he did not in fact order a Mighty Meaty pizza is really quite fantastic.
Despite a (presumably untrue) joke at the beginning claiming that these are bargain bin actors, the performances are all solid throughout. The drunk uses the centre of attention to cause wonderful chaos throughout, while the sober are putting in genuinely good performances – perhaps hoping a good review in The Guardian might be enough to get them an offer to join a proper Shakespeare production.
Overall, Shit-Faced Shakespeare’s Macbeth is just fantastic. It’s every bit as brilliantly funny as the premise suggests, and with a different member of the cast drunk each night, making completely different jokes and improvisations, it seems to be something one could watch over and over and over.
Photos: Andrew AB
Shit-Faced Shakespeare: Macbeth is at Leicester Square Theatre from 9th July until 11th September 2021. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.