Brighton Fringe 2013
"An entirely serious Shakespeare play… with an entirely shit-faced actor.
The Magnificent Bastards of Shit-Faced Shakespeare present their production of intoxicated theatrics with simple, charming honesty. The show’s Compere John Sebastian Borelli Bartram Trixibelle Mitton sweeps through the audience with Russel Brand-ian style, leaps nimbly on to the stage and opens the show with a cry of “Would you like to know how much our actor has had to drink?”
What follows is an abridged hour of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ performed by five professional actors, 4 sober of whom are sober, one decidedly not so. On the night I saw the Shit-Faced action it was the turn of Hermia (Beth-Louise Priestly) who, during a very tender moment with Lysander (Chris Lane), turned to the audience and informed us that “I fucking love Shakespeare!” The utterly-trashed Hermia blunders through the hour-long performance with varying degrees of consciousness and though that in itself is very entertaining it is the other actor’s abilities which make this production more than simply a gimmick. All of Magnificent Bastard’s actors are professionally trained and you get the feeling that with the alcohol this show would be a very well-acted performance. It is their ability, however, to improvise under threat of the show falling apart as well as their total trust in one another which pulls this production off with genuinely impressive and hilarious performances. I take my hat off most of all to the night’s Lysander; during his and Hermia’s opening scene there was no hope of a correct or coherent line from the object of his love and he therefore had to monologue the entire scene (with the odd declaration of “Chris…oops, sorry, ‘Lysander’” from Hermia).
What Magnificent Bastard Productions have done is create every actors worst nightmare of an out-of-control actor but have put it in a (vaguely) controlled environment. There are times when what is happening on stage is being watched through the gaps between your fingers as the car-crash nature of the performance unfolds and times when you are weeping with laughter. No matter what you think of the premise this production is at once horrifyingly funny and an incredibly accomplished performance, bravo!