For Perth’s annual Fringe World festival, the delightfully ridiculous Shakespearean drinking game Booze & the Bard has returned for 2022 with two shows: their tried and true Macbeth, the Scotch Play and the brand new Twelfth Pint (or What You Spill). We caught the Saturday night showing of Macbeth on the 15th of January and happily watched Shakespeare’s tragedy descend into a side-splitting farce.
The idea behind Booze & the Bard is simple: five actors perform a retelling of one of Shakespeare’s classics, but one of them is drunk and the rest are drinking as well. It could easily have become quite lazy, with the comedy merely produced by any drunken antics that occurred – but thankfully this was not the case. It was a well-developed comedic show, with various other methods employed to create a continually funny experience.
Firstly, they were attempting to squeeze a two-and-a-half-hour play into one hour, with five actors portraying about 20 characters. Understandably, chaos ensued. Another way they kept the show fresh was by getting audience members to spin a wheel that landed on ‘rules’ the cast had to follow – for example, when it landed on ‘narrator’s choice’, the narrator decided that Macbeth should have a French accent for the rest of the scene. However, perhaps when it simply landed on ‘accent’ it would have been entertaining for the audience to choose the accent instead of the narrator choosing again.
Improvisation was sprinkled throughout every part of the play (often caused by the drunken actor disrupting proceedings) and the actors confidently committed to whatever came up. However, not everything was improvised, as the actors actually delivered some surprisingly impressive traditional monologues from the original play – proving that they cleverly chose which parts of the masterpiece to mess with.
The actor they nominated to be the drunken one downed a tray of whisky shots at the beginning and was (predictably) the most hilarious person on stage. It was a relief that he didn’t ‘put on’ the drunkenness, any mistakes or silliness were completely sincere and therefore much more funny. He kept stopping in the middle of monologues and saying to himself ‘oh wait, that’s not right’ or yelling out crude comments from backstage. Also, when playing Lady Macbeth, his over-the-top accent impersonations were a real crowd-pleaser, especially his version of a ‘Cali girl’ (a girl from California).
The Booze & the Bard’s Macbeth, the Scotch Play was a fast-paced, enthusiastically performed retelling where a mixture of physical comedy, pop culture references, and general intoxicated mayhem kept the audience raucously laughing the entire time.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Twelfth Pint (or What You Spill) is showing at Le Roi at the Belgian Beer Cafe from 19-23 of January.