SHITFACED SHAKESPEARE | Edinburgh, Udderbelly

In Guys and Dolls, teetotal Sarah Brown is handed a dulce de leche by Sky Masterson that he reasons contains just enough alcohol to act as a preservative. ‘This would be a wonderful way to get children to drink milk,’ she remarks.

It turns out that the same principle can be applied where Shakespeare is concerned. The Fringe audience is a little sozzled (as is their custom) but so too is one of the five cast members on stage. On this occasion the designated drinker is Jessica, daughter of Shylock in this abridged version of The Merchant of Venice.

What follows is fun and unexpected as the primary laughs aren’t necessarily drawn from her sweary (impromptu) soliloquies and unkempt antics. Put a bull in a china shop and it will be predictable — what is more interesting is how the shop owner responds. For Shitfaced Shakespeare, the coping mechanisms and improvised responses of the sober performers is also the main source of interest and humour.

Shakespeare? Nearly. Shitfaced? A little. A new way to teach Shakespeare? Probably not. But something of a Fringe institution, and certainly one worth experiencing if the mere sight of the title is enough to make you wonder.

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