Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare Fails To Pack A Punch

Sh!t-faced Shakespeare®: The Taming of the Shrew, Leicester Square Theatre ★★☆☆☆

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Sh!t-Faced Shakespeare Fails To Pack A Punch Sh!t-faced Shakespeare®: The Taming of the Shrew, Leicester Square Theatre 2
©Rah Petherbridge Photography

Take a small cast, ply one of the actors with alcohol, stick them all onto a West End stage and then get them to perform a 70-minute version of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew — what could go wrong? Well unfortunately, in this case, the entire concept. It just doesn’t work.

To be fair, it’s possible that — for this show — the problem is down to the choice of play. The Taming of the Shrew is already a comedy, so adding drunken farce on top only amounts to the actors all trying to out-wit and out-perform each other. This would work far better with all the actors playing serious characters and earnestly smoothing over the drunk actor’s mishaps.

©Rah Petherbridge Photography

And this play gets silly — too silly. With a mixture of goofy characters, a drunken idiot changing the direction of the plot and a sort of kooky offstage ringmaster regularly breaking the fourth wall to rein the plot back in, it’s easy to be overwhelmed, confused and overstimulated by the whole thing. Also, the drunk man just isn’t that funny.

Hamlet is the next Shakespeare play being drunkenly tackled in June, and we have a feeling this one will work much better. We’ll raise a glass to that.

Sh!t-faced Shakespeare®: The Taming of the Shrew, Leicester Square Theatre, 6 Leicester Place, WC2H 7BX. Tickets from £16.25, until 1 June 2019.

Last Updated 25 April 2019