“Shit-faced Shakespeare” might be the Bard’s funniest comedy to date.
The latest British import, currently playing at the Davis Square Theatre, delivers a version of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” you won’t soon forget. The cast, on the other hand, may have a very different experience.
Each night the talented troupe of Magnificent Bastard Productions tries to perform a serious production of Shakespeare’s comic tale of four young lovers and the magical fairy Puck. But three hours before curtain time, one of the actors is randomly selected to get (inebriated). The result is a riotous mix of Shakespearean earnestness and sloppy drunken mess.
At this performance, Stacey Norris was the lucky drunkard and yet her character Helena was the only one who didn’t pay a price for her wobbling, booze-fueled missteps. While the others were putting on a show, Norris’ performance felt like something right out of “I Love Lucy.” Whether it was backstage noise, running commentary that completely disregarded the fourth wall, poking fun at the, ahem, revealing nature of men in tights, or accidentally using then reclaiming the c-word, Norris couldn’t have written a funnier script.
But when she managed to focus, you got intermittent glimpses of a really fine actress who, despite the slurs, has complete mastery of the role.
Comedic opportunities abound for each character when it’s their turn to drink. There’s fighting, loving, a chase scene and those moments Puck spreads his magical flower juice on the eyelids of the other men. It’s easy to see how each of these could go horribly right if one of the players is intoxicated.
There’s also audience interaction, which is always interesting given the actor isn’t the only one who’s been drinking. If you want to avoid being part of the show, stay clear of the front row. There’s a reason they call it the bomb row.