Sh*tfaced Shakespeare Presents ‘Macbeth, but Drunk’

Sh*tfaced Shakespeare Presents ‘Macbeth, but Drunk’

October 4, 2019

On Saturday, Sept. 21, Brandeis’ Shakespeare society, Hold Thy Peace, sponsored a unique and unforgettable event. The group went to see Shitfaced Shakespeare’s production of Macbeth at The Rockwell in Boston. In this performance, the Bard’s infamous Scottish tragedy becomes one of his most outrageous comedies to ever grace the stage. This shift from tragedy to comedy is due in large part to one of the actors being completely inebriated. There are, however, other aspects of the show that enhance the comedic effect, including improved lines, hilarious props, and audience participation. 

Of course, the main draw of the show is that, four hours before curtain, one cast member gradually gets more drunk throughout the performance. There are some rules in place for both the safety of the audience and the actors, however. For example, no one performer can be drunk on consecutive nights, and no one is ever required to be the designated drunk more than three times over the course of a month. Also part of the performance is the stage manager, whose job is to explain the rules of the performance, and more importantly, make sure the performers don’t hurt themselves. The stage manager can be seen cleaning up spilled beer during a dance scene and keeping sharp objects away from the drunk actor. 

Hold Thy Peace was lucky enough to come on a night where the title character was the designated drinker. The entire audience laughed uproariously when they realized that he was the drunk performer. In response, Noah Simes, who portrayed Macbeth, simply said “F** off.” From his fourth-wall-breaking remarks and his incessant need to point at things, almost everything Macbeth did garnered laughter from the audience. Despite the drinks, Macbeth actually managed to perform several of his monologues almost flawlessly, even managing the performance with a gummy worm in his mouth, which he spat out on the floor halfway through.

  While a good amount of hilarity ensued from Macbeth’s flubbed lines or improvised observations (like noting one audience member looked like an owl), an essential part of the show revolves around how the sober actors interact with their very drunk lead. Whether Banquo is desperately trying to keep Macbeth focused on the scene or Macduff enduring Macbeth’s drunken attempts at a Scottish accent, it is amazing and hilarious to watch these characters react and even join in on Macbeth’s drunken escapades. One example of this is when Macbeth refers to the Weird Witches as “E.T. lookin’ mother****’s” which became a recurring joke throughout the rest of the performance. Sometimes actors will even embrace a completely ludicrous joke. At one point, Macbeth noted Macduff’s armor resembled that of a green ronin, to which Macduff replied that his family comes from the Japanese part of Scotland. 

Even though the lead was intoxicated, the rest of the cast actually delivered great performances. Specifically, Raisa Hoffman as Lady Macbeth portrayed the infamous character on a level of any trained Shakespearean actor. Of course, this genuine acting talent only made the performance funnier when, after a very dramatic monologue from Lady Macbeth, her husband would stumble on stage, miss a queue or mess up a line. 

Another entertaining aspect of the show was its use of props. While no one in the audience was expecting Broadway-style effects, the relatively low-budget props used in the show actually made the performance even funnier. The famous floating dagger of Macbeth was, in this performance, a dagger tied to a fishing rod. Another example: all the children in the show–who just so happened to get murdered—were portrayed by small remote controlled robots with some clothes and a fake head on top. While these props are simple in the former case and absurd in the latter, both were extremely funny when shown in a legendary tragedy like Macbeth.

One unexpected part of the performance was the great amount of audience participation. At the beginning of the show the stage manager picked three audience members to hold three items. Two items, the gong and the trumpet, can be held by anyone, and when sounded the stage manager serves Macbeth another drink. This became especially abused when both instruments were sounded and Macbeth had to perform with full drinks in both hands and somehow consume them during a choreographed dance scene. The last item is a bucket, the purpose of which is both obvious and not worth mentioning in this article. Thankfully it was not needed during this performance. Lastly, when Macbeth ordered the deaths of Banquo and her children the assassin picked an accomplice from the audience. A man feared by all who kills without remorse, a monster in the guise of man, the assassin known simply as . . . Steve! While other Shakespeare performances may interact with the audience on some level, this version of Macbeth gave the audience a purpose in the story, whether directly—like Steve—or indirectly like the instruments used to make Macbeth even more drunk and ridiculous.

Shitfaced Macbeth was one of the most entertaining Shakespeare experiences I have ever had. It managed to take a legendary tragedy and turn it into a comedy with a few drinks and some funny props. This show is not only entertaining for Shakespeare fans, but also appeals to anyone who enjoys watching an intoxicated person make a fool of themselves on stage. That being said, the cast of this inebriated interpretation has a clear love of Shakespeare and veritable acting talent that can appeal to even the most avid Shakespeare aficionado. With a different drunkard each week, every performance should be unique. Shitfaced Shakespeare is truly a show worth seeing, and here’s hoping Hold thy Peace sponsors another trip to see their performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but Drunk.”

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