Leicester Square Theatre – until 14 September 2019
Magnificent Bastard Productions strikes again with its hysterical performance of Shit-faced Hamlet at Leicester Square Theatre. The cast and creative team provide an evening full of laughs, attitude, and comedy gold that breaches the boundaries of decency and convention.
If you enter the theatre believing you’re about to witness classically trained actors perform a Shakespeare classics, then you’re correct. And if you believe you’re about to witness a crafty comedy with a few drinks, you are also correct! In Shit-Faced Shakespeare shows, classically trained actors perform a condensed Shakespeare play – here, the tale of Hamlet – while one of them has been drinking for four hours prior and is, of course, completely shit-faced.
If you’re lucky enough to hit the jackpot and get the drunken Great Dane himself, as we did, you get to experience Christopher Lane’s sarcastic, snappy comebacks, melodramatic tantrums, causing utter confusion and hilariously throwing the other actors off-script as they try to adhere to the company rule of playing along with their Shit-faced peer, no matter how illogical. Lane mumbles through the famous soliloquies – giving new meaning to “to be or not to be” – and makes his jesters perform a sing-along mash-up of Broadway musicals.
Throughout, the other cast excel in their ability to keep the story running and crank up the comedy. Saul Marron’s portrayal of Claudius, King of Denmark and Hamlet’s uncle, is excellent with his running in-jokes and hilarious way of coping with another actor’s microphone fault, exclaiming at the recurring “thunder that was passing over the palace.” Meanwhile, Matthew Seager conjures roaring laughs with his obedience to Lane (including an amorous kiss) and funny voices.
I love the ludicrous concept of the Shit-faced Shakespeare shows. Having now experienced one first-hand, I can report that Shit-faced Hamlet is a genuine joy to watch, an evening of broken boundaries, teasing, audience participation, endless laughter and spontaneity. Highly recommended!