Booze and the Bard: The Shakespearean Drinking Game

Booze and the Bard: The Shakespearean Drinking Game
Adelaide Fringe, The Lost Dice. 18-26 February 2023

The Bard surely enjoyed an ale or two whilst writing his plays, so I’m positive he would have approved of getting drunk whilst performing one. In this case, it’s Twelfth Pint (I see what you did there), though next weekend, it’s Hamlet, Pints of Denmark (why not Gins of Denmark?).

Six Perth-based performers race roughly through the story, with judicious use of Shakespeare’s own words, interspersed with modern language asides to explain what the heck is going on, and enough contemporary references to make you chuckle. This company is clearly in love with Shakespeare’s words, treating them with respect even when laughing at them, inserting language that might have been on the Globe’s theatre floor but never on its stage, and offering cultural context on what was considered cool back in those days.

Oh, and there are game show elements thrown in as well: the first is the titular drinking game (encouraged on stage, in no way are they suggesting you should copy them from your seat, though a scan of a handy QR code will bring a frothy one to your side if you’re thirsty…). Before the play’s introduction, one of the actors is chosen to down a few shots to get a head-start on the others.

The performers move between the roles, often seamlessly, though sometimes without their character’s cloak, accent, or facial hair – but this just makes everyone laugh more. The other game-show component is a ‘spin-the-wheel’ interruption where one of actors has to continue their performance in a different style – say, as if you were in a Western, or just three inches tall.

There is already strong movement of the actor’s body to accelerate the audience’s understanding of what was just said, or to explain a sixteenth century innuendo, but this elevates the show to an acting masterclass: each gives their character a different physicality, or a change in how they speak, and you get new insights into their roles. Sometimes it’s just silly and hilarious, but other times, the differences reveal new perspectives on the character that they’re sending up.

Booze & The Bard: The Shakespearean Drinking Game is both entertaining and educational This should be essential viewing for actors rehearsing for a Shakespeare play! It all works wonderfully together, creating a laugh-out-loud homage to the great writer, and even if you didn’t know the story going in, there’s enough of it there to understand what Will intended by the end of the show

Mark Wickett

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