Fringe review: Sh!t-faced Shakespeare – Romeo & Juliet

What happens when you give a Shakespearean cast some liquid courage? The result is a little bit naughty, but surprisingly wholesome. ★★★★★

Feb 27, 2023, updated Feb 27, 2023

As we walk into this sold-out performance, it’s hard to believe all these folk in the Garden of Unearthly Delights venue are here to see a Shakespearean play, but they erupt in applause when the MC appears on stage in his glittering ensemble.

With old-school British charm, he explains the rules: a troupe of professionally-trained Shakespearean actors are going to perform Romeo and Juliet for us. The catch? One of the cast members is completely shit-faced.

Two audience members are handed a horn and a gong – each can be used once throughout the show and, on cue, our drunken actor must have another drink. Another brave guest is handed a bucket as a precaution.

The play begins and we find ourselves in the streets of Verona. Beautiful Italian architecture decorates the backdrop. On the left, a building is graffitied with a swirly turd and the words “Capulets eat poo”, while on a wall to the right is a drawing of a bum and the words “Benvolio iz an ass”.

The characters emerge and we are introduced to the rivalry between the Capulets and Montagues, but left wondering who will be our drunken actor on this particular evening. When Juliet stumbles on stage, the answer is obvious.

Romeo and Juliet meet at a ball, dancing the night away to an orchestral version of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”. The hilarious remix reminds us that Romeo and Juliet have just met, and the whole situation (that traditionally leaves six people dead) is, in fact, crazy.

Whenever something goes awry for Juliet (which, of course, is quite often), our protagonist throws herself to the ground with a cry and slams her fist against the floor in a tantrum that is curiously reminiscent of Cardi B’s “WAP” dance.

Near the end of the play, when Romeo finds our “dead” Juliet, things take a turn… giving a hint of what might have happened to our tragic couple if Shakespeare’s characters had swigged a few seltzers and half a bottle of hard liquor.

Sh!t-faced Shakespeare – Romeo & Juliet is playing at The Roundhouse in the Garden of Unearthly Delights until March 19.

Read more 2023 Adelaide Fringe stories and reviews on InReview here.

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