Shit-Faced Shakespeare Comes to Boston

They'll perform an intoxicating take on a Shakespearean classic.
shit-faced shakespeare

Photograph courtesy of Magnificent Bastard Productions / Rah Petherbridge Photography

You’re probably familiar with William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a tale of forbidden love, forests, and magic potions that has captivated audiences for nearly 500 years. What you probably haven’t seen, however, is a production of the classic that has one completely inebriated cast member.

Shit-Faced Shakespeare is a program that began in the UK six years ago and has performed 150 times and consumed more than 1,400 cans of beer on stage. It’s a completely serious performance where five actors try to do one of Shakespeare’s greatest works justice, while one randomly selected actor gets drunk and has to try to stand up straight and not slur his or her lines. For the first time, Magnificent Bastard Productions is bringing the show across the pond to make its US debut at the Davis Square Theatre, hoping to attract a younger crowd to Shakespeare’s work.

“We’ve been looking to do a show in America for a few years now,” says Lewis Ironside, the chair of Magnificent Bastard Productions who plays Puck and Lysander in the show. “I came over last November to see the theater, I came to see Boston. I just fell in love with the area. Cambridge is so perfect for this. Between Harvard, MIT, and the area of Cambridge and Somerville, the area is so lovely, it’s the perfect mixture of heavy-drinking antics and well-educated refinement. I like to think we help.”

In early performances, the show will feature just the veterans of the UK cast. As time progresses, American actors will be added into the production, eventually making up an American branch of Magnificent Bastard Productions.

“We all do this back in the UK professionally,” Ironside says. “Getting young actors from the US to really connect to it is really exciting for us.”

The UK cast began rehearsing with the Boston-based actors this week. So far, so good, says Ironside, but that’s before the booze gets involved.

“We’re delighted with the quality of what Boston’s had to offer so far,” he says. “Rehearsing the show is a completely sober process. Then, all hell breaks loose.”

After six years of shows, the Shit-Faced Shakespeare cast has achieved some notable milestones, like a display of 29 nipples and ordering £179 worth of Domino’s pizza while on stage. Moving forward, the UK cast hopes to leave the show in the hands of talented–and intoxicated–Boston actors.

This weekend’s preview shows have already sold-out in anticipation, but the show will open to the public on Wednesday, April 15, and continue through May 1. Find tickets on Eventbrite.